The next day, when Janice and I wade the last few yards to shore, I am wearing a pair of khaki pants and cotton shirt from Antone's closet and carrying his lace-up leather boots. The clothing is a surprisingly good fit, and the boots are all right with two pairs of socks. On my head is a broad-brimmed hat, protection from the tropical sun. I also carry Janice's pack and two large canteens of water.
I sigh with relief when we reach the cracked mud of the shore. At every step I have expected the bite of a snake or crocodile. Janice is already waving to Tereise, who is too busy to wave back. She has agreed to cross the Nile here, then float down the river only a few kilometers before running the Hat aground. I've shown her how to drop the sail before she leaves the boat. I wave, too, glad to have met this brave woman and looking forward to seeing her again.
I sit on the hard ground and put on boots and shoes. My pants legs are wet, but will no doubt dry quickly. Janice has donned her boots and is up and pointing to the southwest. "Cashi Zun is only two or three kilometers that way." I look up doubtfully at the clear sky and blazing sun. "We're really going to walk three kilometers across the desert? In the middle of the day?"
Janice points out the two canteens I carry and lifts the large water skin she has brought to shore. "It's barely mid-morning. We'll be there before the sun's at its peak. Just drink plenty of water and keep up."
Keep up? I'm wondering if she's compared the length of our legs.
At first, I think how beautiful the desert is; then I think how hot it is; then I don't think at all, concentrating only on moving one foot in front of the other. I feel a touch and look down into Janice's green eyes. "Drink," she says and lifts one of the canteens to my mouth. I take a couple of sips and stop.
Janice says, "Drink! You've sweat out more than that in the last five minutes."
I take a deeper draught and explain, "I don't want to run out."
Janice sighs, and I can tell she's controlling her impatience. "In dry heat like this, you need water in your body, not in a canteen. There's a well at Cashi Zun. We can get more water there. Listen, Mel, I'm not kidding. If you don't drink now, you won't need to worry about whether there's water for later!"
I take the canteen and drink deeply. My stomach rebels, but I keep the water down.
"Are you feeling sick?" Janice asks. I nod. "That is NOT good. You've got to keep going a little longer. There's a low cliff farther along. We can probably get you in some shade there. Here, take one more drink, and we'll move on." I take a sip, but I know I can't drink more.
When Janice moves on, I follow, concentrating on moving one foot, then the other. The motion becomes automatic after a while, and my mind can drift. . . .interrupted only by someone ordering me to drink. At last, a voice tells me to sit, and I do. A gentle hand presses a wet rag to the back of my neck, and I feel someone washing my face. A vague memory from early childhood tells me it is my mother.
After a while, the fog clears. I'm lying on the ground looking up at a blue sky. The sky looks awfully close. I realize that it's my own blue dress. Someone has hung it above my face, between a rock face and a scrubby desert bush. Janice is kneeling beside me, the top of her hat touching the fabric that shades us. She is using Zepp's hat to fan my face.
"Good job, ace," she says. "At least you stayed on your feet until we got to where I could rig some shade. I thought you said you were used to a hot climate."
I move my lips but nothing comes out. Janice tips one of the canteens and pours a few drops of water into my mouth. I choke, then swallow. "When you stopped sweating, I knew you were in trouble, but you kept moving until we reached this place."
"It's a stone outcropping of some sort, about half a kilometer long. We're near the southern end of it, I think. There are some low, folded hills just beyond, and Cashi Zun is there."
"Done with the desert?"
"Well, it's all desert, whole damn country's desert, but there are some places to get out of the sun. The canteens are empty, but the skin's still over half-full, so we should be all right."
"Yes, there's a well at Cashi Zun. When you're ready, we'll move on."
Janice mops my face with a damp cloth. "Rest a while and drink a little more water. You know, Mel, you had me worried. Desert travel just isn't for some people."
After about an hour, Janice agrees that I am all right to move. By now, the sun is far enough to the west that the rock face throws a thin shadow, and, as we walk, we stay in that shade as much as possible. The outcropping ends abruptly, just dropping into the desert floor. We turn west, and the terrain instantly becomes rougher, the "folded" hills Janice has mentioned.
There is now the occasional depression or large rock that offers its scant shade, and Janice calls a halt so often that I finally say, "Enough! I'm fine, and, at this rate, we'll get there next month."
Janice laughs and points to the next low hill. "Over there, on the north slope: Cashi Zun."
Distances are deceptive in the desert, but still we reach the abandoned dig in fifteen minutes, with no more "poor Mel" stops on the way. There are no buildings or tents left standing; just a few debris and pieces of broken equipment bear evidence that a camp once stood here.
The first thing Janice does is walk to what looks like a small stone cistern. With my help, she pushes off the flat stone that covers the top. Inside, there is a lever. Janice works the lever up and down a few times. It creaks, but nothing happens. She removes the plug from the metal tube to which the lever is attached and pours in a small amount of water from the water skin. She pumps the lever again, and a small quantity of rusty-looking water pours from the tube into the bowl of the cistern. Taking one of the empty canteens I still carry, she uses its cap to scoop up this water and pour it back down the tube. More pumping of the lever, and a stream of clear water finally rewards her efforts. I feel relief. I've learned my first lesson of the desert: Water is life.
Janice fills the first canteen and motions for the second. "Always fill your canteens at the first opportunity. It could save your life. We'll use the rest of the water from the skin, then fill that, too."
Janice wets a cloth and wipes her face and hands and gives me the cloth so I can do the same. The water is surprisingly cool.
Her eyes sweeping the site, Janice says, "I was hoping for a piece of canvas so we could rig a shelter, but the place has been picked clean."
All I see is barren space. "By whom?"
"The workers, probably, before they left," Janice answers. "Bedouins, too. You may think nothing's growing here, but, for part of the year, they bring their flocks to these hills to graze. The Dahkla Oasis is a few kilometers to the west, and there's a year-round lake there. By Egyptian standards, this area is a swamp!"
Janice takes from a pocket her father's journal page. She unfolds it to study the map on the back. "Before I left, we were digging over there. You can see a little of an ancient wall. Blowing sand has almost covered it, but we had it exposed to about three feet down. Doesn't sound like much, but this dried mud is like concrete, and you can't use dynamite on a dig. Well, not usually anyway." She chuckles, and I'm sure she's thinking about a certain tomb in Greece.
"It rains that much here that there's mud?" I ask.
"No, it hardly rains at all. What I called dried mud is really ancient alluvium from Nile floods." As we talk, we drift toward the wall. Janice brushes away sand, and I can make out some faint marks. In hieratic writing, I read the New Kingdom equivalent of "Kilroy was here."
Janice continues. "If we dug out all this loose sand, we would come to compressed dried mud. We would have to break that up and dig down at least twenty feet to come to the base of the original wall."
"Twenty feet of mud? This far from the Nile?"
"There have been periodic floods that have reached even farther," Janice says, clearly in her element now. For the first time, I see the scientist that lives within the adventurer. "KV7, Ramses III's tomb, in the Valley of the Kings, is twenty-three feet high, and, when it was discovered, the burial chamber was filled with flood debris and mud from floor to ceiling. It's a lot farther from the Nile than Cashi Zun.'
She picks up a handful of sand, as if she would like to make a start at exposing the wall. Then she lets the grains fall through her fingers, and she again studies the map held in her other hand. "The wall is here on the map," she says, pointing. "And the well here." She makes another stab at the map. "So Dad's new dig must have been. . . . " She turns to face northwest. ". . . .over there."
With me following, she walks determinedly through the old camp to what looks like a footpath around the nearest hill. We pass what I had thought to be a boulder and now realize is a weathered block of limestone. Beyond, contrasting darkly with the tans and browns of the hillside, is the rectangular opening of a tomb.
End of Part 10
Janice stands silently at the entrance. Her face has assumed the hard, unfeeling look I've seen before. From her shirt pocket, she takes her zippo lighter and a small cigar. Biting off the end, she lights the cigar and draws on it until if glows. Her eyes opaque and unreadable, she silently smokes and stares into blackness.
"Give me my pack," she finally says, and I hand it to her. She takes out a large flashlight, and I start to understand the weight of this sack I've carried for two days. "Stay here." Beam on, she steps into the tomb. Close behind, I see the beam fall on a pile of torches. I step forward to pick one up, and Janice jumps. Because she's behind the flashlight beam, I cannot see her face, but I'm sure it wears a glare.
"Take a couple of torches," she says, "and give me two. We can save the batteries." She uses the tip of her cigar to light a torch for each of us. The ends of the torches are wrapped in cloth and covered with something that looks like pitch, and they ignite readily and glow brightly. Unlike the narrow flashlight beam, they illuminate the tunnel from wall to wall and floor to ceiling for several feet. I can see that the tunnel is no more than five feet wide and six feet high. I can span its width with my arms, and I remove my hat to keep it from brushing the ceiling. The floor slopes downward and is covered at intervals with large rocks and piles of debris.
We walk for several minutes, squeezing by and climbing over obstacles, when Janice speaks, her voice echoing hollowly against the walls. "This isn't right. This tunnel was completely collapsed. I have the official report. A shaft was dropped from above to get to. . . .get to the bodies. After the bodies were recovered, that shaft was plugged, too."
"Well, then someone cleared the tunnel," I say, thinking that I am stating the obvious.
"I don't think so. According to the report, the ceiling of the tomb and the tons of rock above it came down. All that didn't collapse was a small section near the entrance. The workers outside heard metal being pounded against the rocks, and that's how they knew there were survivors. They couldn't move a massive block that filled the entrance, so someone got the idea to dig from above. It worked, but the rescuers got there too late."
"Well," I say, "either the report exaggerated the damage or someone has been very busy."
We've come to a division in the tunnel. One branch continues on with the same slope. The other, the one to the left, slants down even more sharply. "Which way?" I ask.
"I want to see the chamber Dad called the library in his journal. He said it was on the third level, so let's go down." We take the tunnel on the left, which seems to lead deeper into or beneath the hill.
As we go deeper, the floor becomes smoother, and I realize we are walking on limestone blocks. I hold my torch near the wall to my right. The limestone here bears signs of plaster. Although cracks and other damage are evident, I can make out illustrations that were probably once painted in bright colors. Janice comes over and holds her torch near mine. "See this figure?" With her index finger, she outlines a central figure, larger than the rest. "He's repeated every few feet along the wall. Chances are he's the occupant of this tomb."
"Is he a pharaoh?" I ask.
"No," she says, "The iconography is wrong. And it looks like the figure was originally painted red, not gilt or gold. My guess would be a high-ranking official in the pharaoh's court. There's something in his hand. Maybe an insignia of office?"
We walk along and study the next two tableau. They are in slightly better condition. "He's holding a pen and a papyrus scroll," I say.
Janice examines the mural for several minutes. "It could be. So he's what, an accountant? The head of the Egyptian tax service? See, all the smaller figures around him are doing different activities. This one might be driving a chariot. This line could be farmers or soldiers. See how they're carrying those pikes or spears over their shoulders? It's hard to tell."
"I think they're soldiers. It looks like they're marching to war."
She nods. "I think you're right. So what is he doing? Counting them? Making battle plans? He doesn't look like a general."
"He's writing about the battle," I answer, and somehow I'm sure. I walk ahead to the next wall painting. "Look, here's the central figure with his pen and papyrus. All around him are men in boats or on barges. This broad band of blue must be the Nile. What are these people doing? Swimming?"
"Drowning," Janice says. "See how wide the river is? It's a flood."
"The central figure isn't involved in the scenes, is he? He's observing and writing."
As we continue on and downward, more scenes are revealed by our torchlight. A lion hunt. A horse race? What looks like the coronation of a pharaoh.
A horse race? I back up, and Janice motions impatiently for me to come on. When I don't respond, she stomps back. "There's only one horse," I say. Is the rider a woman?" For some minutes, Janice and I stare at a painting of a long-haired figure riding a galloping white horse. Unlike the other figures, shown in profile according to the Egyptian custom, this one is drawn full face. The lips are red and full. The eyes, outlined as if with kohl, are the brightest blue. Janice shifts her gaze from me to the figure and back; then moves on.
Far below the surface of the hill, the tunnel ends. We face what appears to be a solid limestone block. Hieroglyphics cover one section at Janice's eye level. She motions me forward to look. I laugh.
"What is it, some curse on those who enter here?"
I shake my head in disbelief. "Essentially, it says, 'Here is the library.' "
"That's great to know! But how do we move that block?" Janice gives it an ineffective kick.
"It says one more thing."
Janice leans over to look at the base of the block, and she, too, grins. "It's on a track. See these grooves cut into the block and the floor?"
We lean our weight against the five-foot high block of stone. It's hard to get it started, but, once it starts to move, it slides as easily as a boat on water. Janice slips through the opening with her torch. "What do you see?" I ask her.
She quotes, "Marvelous things."
Realizing that it will probably snap like a match stick if the stone moves, I wedge my spare torch between the block and the wall. At least it makes me feel a little better. Then I duck and follow Janice into the chamber.
Marvelous things indeed! Although it's hard to gauge its dimensions from the light thrown by the torches, I estimate the chamber to be a twenty foot cube. From floor to ceiling, every wall is covered with paintings and inscriptions. There are several stone tables, large and small, and beautiful, ornate chairs. Around the room are scattered deep, decorated jars of a type used to store papyri. On the small tables are figurines and other rich objects. Unlike the tunnel, damage from years and water seems small.
"That block is designed like a plug," Janice observes. "It's wider on this side than on the other and seals perfectly. Yet, somehow, it's set in grooves so it will glide easily. I doubt engineers today could do as well.
Janice finds a bracket in the wall and places her lit torch there. I follow suit. I inspect one jar, then another. "The papyri are gone," I say.
Janice looks in two more. "Dad's journal page said there were a lot of papyri. Did he move them? Or did someone else do it?"
I'm studying the largest inscription on the wall. Carved into solid rock, it is beneath a figure like those we saw in the tunnel. "Did you ever hear of a Harpsoptah? Or an Omm Shoshenk?"
"Harpsoptah? That sounds familiar. A high priest? Shoshenk was a late dynasty pharaoh, probably not really an Egyptian. Assyrian maybe? Omm Shoshenk would mean Shoshenk's mother. The foreign rulers that followed the New Kingdom usually took on the Egyptian culture, the religion, and so forth. I always thought it was an open question as to who conquered who."
"Never mind. What is this empty space under the inscription? It almost looks like a picture frame," I observe.
Janice pulls the stone fragments from her pocket. She fits one piece, my original piece, into the left center of the depression in the wall. "Hold this," she says, and I do. She places the other fragment to the right of the first. The fit between the two pieces and the "frame" is perfect. We can now see the size of the original tablet, about fourteen by twelve inches. Together, our piece covers about one-third of the total area.
"It's much smaller than I thought," I say. "I guess it's more of a stone tablet than part of a stele."
Janice shrugs. "Call it what you like. I just want to find the rest. We know there at least two more pieces, and they tell the beginning and the end of the story. We also know it was found here by my father, NOT at Dahkla by Gruner."
"That's what your father wanted to tell you. I'll bet Tekmet was supposed to get that journal page to you a long time ago."
With a deep sigh, Janice removes the fragments and cradles them in her hands.
"Do you think this Harpsoptah wrote the story?"
"Read the whole inscription."
"It's some sort of ritual incantation, I think." I struggle to make out the general meaning. "There's an abstraction sign here that probably means the next symbol is a specialized one or some kind of coined term. It's like saying, 'you won't know what this symbol means unless you already know what this symbol means.' "
As is by rote, Janice says, "As best you can, Miss Pappas."
I read, "In praise of Ptah, earth-creator, life-giver, an offering of ABSTRACTION COMING--SOMETHING--mother of Shoshenk honored by Harpsoptah, PROBABLY High Priest of SOMEPLACE Temple."
"Something, probably, someplace? Not up to your usual standards."
It's my turn to shrug.
"The temple is probably Memphis," Janice fills in. "Ptah was mainly a Memphite deity. I wonder if this Harpsoptah is the high priest associated with that cult. I remember something about a Harpson, a priest-scribe. He was the brother of one of the pharaohs, I think. I wish I could remember what dynasty. The only reason I remember him at all is that his name didn't seem to fit with the Amenhoteps and Akhenatens and Setis."
"What's that?" I ask.
"I said his name didn't. . . ."
Janice moves quickly to a corner of the chamber. I turn toward the entrance. Appearing from behind the limestone block are a flashlight and a hand followed by a thin, black-clad man.
End of Part 11
The light of the torches reflects off metal-framed glasses and sharklike teeth. "Dr. Covington, I presume?" His voice is high and nasal, with a slight Teutonic accent. He carries a silver-handled swagger stick.
"Gruner," says Janice. She reaches for her jacket pocket. Another man, broad and stolid, has squeezed through the small opening between block and wall. In his left hand is a large black pistol, which he is aiming at my head. Janice's hand moves out from her side.
Two more men emerge in succession, as if appearing from the rock that surrounds us. The third, although a little taller, looks much like the second. In his right hand, he holds a gun, the twin of the other. Where the other men are dressed in boots and desert camouflage, the fourth man, small and neat, wears a dark blue business suit and shined black shoes. I recognize him from the club, as the man Janice identified as Breen. The Nazi, she had said.
The third man approaches me, holding my eyes with his, light blue and icy. His double walks behind Janice and, reaching into her pocket, relieves her of her gun. Without warning, he shoves her hard, and she falls to the stone floor in front of Gruner. She starts to rise but settles to the ground with her captor's pistol behind her left ear.
"Zeigmann, Holst," Gruner orders, "if one of them moves, shoot the other." My muscles have tensed at the rough treatment given Janet, but I make myself relax. Zeigmann--or Holst--takes a tight grip on my upper arm
The left-handed gunman jerks Janice to her feet. "Make up your mind," she says. He shakes her small body as if she has no weight, and her mouth snaps shut.
"Search them," Gruner says. The man holding me sticks his gun in his belt and runs his hands briefly over my body. He reaches into pockets that hold nothing more dangerous than a handkerchief. Resuming his hold on my arm, he again places the gun to my head. The other man proceeds to more roughly search Janice. He finds her big knife and sticks it in his belt. Looking at Gruner, he shakes his head.
Gruner lifts Janice's knapsack from where I've laid it on the floor. Dumping its contents on the largest stone table, he finds the flashlight and another knife. He pockets the knife, and hands the flashlight to Breen, who handles it like some unknown object. Gruner picks up a silver picture frame. Inside, I know, is a photograph of a handsome, young soldier. Gruner carefully sets it on the table as it would be placed on a young woman's night stand. He smiles and looks at Janice. "A boyfriend, Dr. Covington? Or a husband I don't know about?" He shakes the sack once more and, satisfied that it is empty, turns his attention back to Janet.
He faces her, no more than a foot away.
"Dr. Covington," Gruner says, his voice quiet and reasonable, "all we want are the two fragments of the Osorkon stele. We know you have them in your possession. Give them to me, and you and your friend may leave unharmed."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Janice lies.
Gruner's hand moves so quickly, I don't see the backward motion, but the resulting slap resounds in this stone chamber. I feel sick. Except for a slight intake of breath, Janice makes no sound. Her tongue flicks out to touch the blood at the corner of her mouth.
"Dr. Covington, Janice," Gruner soothes, "tell us now or later, but you will tell us, you know."
Janice accurately spits in his face. Gruner's expression doesn't change as he removes an immaculate handkerchief from his breast pocket and calmly wipes his face. "Expose her right arm, Holst," he orders. Absurdly, I think, so my captor is Zeigmann.
Janice glances in my direction, but she doesn't struggle as Holst removes her jacket and tosses it on the floor. She rolls her own right sleeve above the elbow. "That table." Gruner points to one of the smaller tables, one that holds no artifacts. Holst shoves Janice toward the table and forces her to kneel. He places her bare forearm on the table top, holding it there by a tight grip on her wrist, and places his pistol against her left temple.
Janice makes eye contact with Gruner, and her expression is hard. Gruner seems to show her the swagger stick, 18 inches long, flexible and leather-covered. He raises it above his head and pauses, as if to give Janice time to think of what will come. Then he lowers it with his blinding speed, and this time Janice yelps. A welt raises, a thin seam of blood rising along the mark.
Janice swallows the yell and glares with greater fierceness into Gruner's flat, dark eyes. Her expression frightens me more than her tormentor's for I know what hers will mean.
"Where are the pieces?" Gruner asks.
"We left them in Cairo," Janice replies.
"That's a lie. You had them on the boat." Gruner's contradiction carries neither heat nor sorrow. He raises the stick again, and I cringe, but Janice follows its trajectory calmly. Again it whips through the air, and Janice, knowing how it will sting, issues only a strangled cry. Another bloody welt criss-crosses the first. I glance at Breen, standing just inside the chamber, an audience to this awful drama. Perhaps he'll stop it. His expression is one, not of disgust, but of fascination, and I know the futility of that hope.
"I won't ask the question again. You'll tell me when you're ready." Janice sets her jaw as the stick rises, higher than before.
"Stop!" I shout, surprised that my own voice can be so loud. My captor places a meaty paw over my mouth, but Gruner says, "Let her speak."
"No, Mel," Janice says, low and compellingly.
Avoiding her gaze, I concentrate on Gruner. "When I heard you in the tunnel, Janice was standing by the large inscription with the fragments in her hand. By the time you entered, she was in that corner, and the fragments were gone." Gruner and my eyes follow the same course and fall on a storage jar.
"Look," Gruner orders Zeigmann.
Pulling me with him, Zeigmann crosses to the jar. He looks inside the jar, but the interior is dark. "Find them, and take them out," he says. I can barely reach the bottom of the jar, but my fingers finally touch the fragments, and I pull them out. As I hold them in my hand, I look at Janice, who still kneels, her arm pinned across the table top. She doesn't meet my eyes.
Gruner approaches, and I place the pieces of the tablet in his outstretched hand. Breen speaks for the first time. "Give them to me," he says. "Both pieces should have been mine." His voice is cultured, vaguely European, and I remember that he is supposed to be Swiss.
Gruner laughs, "You let that grave robber steal the one you had. If it weren't for me, we wouldn't have them back!" He puts both pieces in his own pocket, and Breen angrily leaves the chamber.
"Tie them up and finish," Gruner commands, and then he, too, is gone.
Holst jerks Janice to her feet, and she slumps against him in a faint. As he moves his gun aside to support her, she brings both hands up to catch him under his chin and tries to knee him at the same time. He blocks this with his thigh.
As Zeigmann starts forward, he grasps both my wrists in his left hand. I ram my elbow into his midsection and am rewarded with a loud outrush of air. Before I can pull away, pain explodes in the right side of my head. I fall, and only his grip on my wrists keeps me from striking the other side of my head on the hard floor.
I hear loud cursing in both English and German and, when my vision clears, see that Holst has subdued Janice and is shaking her small body like a rag doll. He slips his pistol into a holster at his side and uses his body to press her against the chamber's wall. His fingers work at her shirt front, tearing off the top button and then the next.
Zeigmann growls something in German, and Holst answers him, an ugly grin splitting his face. Janice struggles, and he slaps her, a slow, deliberate act. She ceases fighting, but he slaps her again.
Zeigmann's words this time are sharp and hold a challenge that is unmistakable, even in a language I don't understand. Holst and he hold each other's eyes, then Holst drops his gaze. He gives Janice one more shake, then shoves her toward a corner, where she falls. Zeigmann pulls me to the same corner and pushes me down. Keeping his eyes and gun pointed in our direction, he says in English, "Don't move or you die. Holst, get some rope from the truck."
I put my arms around Janice, who seems smaller than I remember. She tenses, then relaxes and lets me guide her head to my shoulder. My own head throbs, and I can feel a lump swelling above my ear. In my whole life, I have never been struck, and I have always feared it. Now I have been hit--with a gun--as hard as I can imagine, and I have survived.
Janice rests her head on my shoulder until Holst returns with a large coil of thin rope. When Janice looks up, it is with hate in her green eyes. My own thoughts surprise me for I am sure that if he touches my friend again I'll kill him.
Holst draws his pistol, and Ziegmann holsters his. Taking the coil of rope from Holst, he motions for me to hold my hands out. Reluctantly, I let go of Janice and do as he orders. He ties my hands tightly. He starts to do the same with Janice, but Holst stops him with some words in German. Zeigmann nods and says in English, "Behind your back." Janice does as he asks, and he binds her hands that way. He orders me to rise, and he lifts Janice to her feet. "Sit by the leg of the big table," he says. We follow his orders again, and I wonder how badly Janice is injured for she is so uncharacteristically meek. Zeigmann runs a loop of the rope around the table leg and each of our ankles and back through the bonds on our hands, effectively tethering us together and to the heavy stone table. I am lying on my side, legs under the table, and Janice sits, leaning against the table leg.
Our captors proceed to strip from the tomb everything they can carry. As they work, they talk in their native tongue. When they are done, only the stone tables and larger jars remain.
Once, while both are gone, Janice and I speak. "Please don't be angry that I told about the fragments," I start.
"It's all right," she answers. "Gruner was right. I would have told. But I would have been stubborn first, and that would have cost me."
"What have Zeigmann and Holst been saying?" I ask, not sure I want to know.
"It's all in German. How do I know?"
"You speak German. Tereise told me."
She frowns. "Tereise is awfully chatty--for a spy."
I hear footsteps in the tunnel. "What did they say?"
"Holst still wants to rape us. He says he'll take me, and Zeigmann can have you. Zeigmann says their orders are just to kill us, and that's what they're going to do."
"I had to ask."
Zeigmann enters alone. He has several thin tubes in his hand and a coil of what looks like string. He kneels in the opposite corner of the room.
"Is that how you killed my father?" Janice asks. "With dynamite?"
Zeigmann looks up from his work. "Nothing personal. Gruner made an offer, but he wouldn't go along." I watch as he places something in the end of one of the tubes and attaches a piece of the cord.
Although I recognize the dangerous gleam in her eyes for what it is, Janice continues in the same conversational tone. "You just follow Gruner's orders, huh?"
Zeigmann carefully measures out a long piece of cord, almost three feet, I guess. That done, he says, "Gruner is in charge." He attaches one end of the cord to the single stick of dynamite. He binds the other four sticks together with tape and prepares them with a much shorter fuse. He crosses to us and squats so that his eyes and Janice's are on the same level. "The concussion will probably kill you," he says. He pulls his gun from his holster and holds it to my head. "Or I can make it even quicker for you and your friend."
"We'll wait," Janice says evenly.
"Patience is a virtue," he replies and rises. He kneels in the corner and lights the fuse. He hurriedly crosses the chamber. His running footsteps echo in the tunnel, and then Janice and I are alone.
End of Part 12