Read Gibraltar Passage Online

Authors: T. Davis Bunn

Gibraltar Passage (19 page)

He unfolded the paper bearing the message he had composed the night before, bent over the key, and began. It took almost forty-five minutes to transcribe the message, partly because it was long and partly
because his Morse code was so rusty. When he finished, Jake sighed his way to his feet, unbent his back, and said, “I guess we might as well go.”

The storekeeper accepted the dollars with unbridled greed. He salaamed repeatedly and shook each of their hands half a dozen times before finally permitting them to depart.

They were almost at the outskirts of the village before the cry rose up behind them. “Sahib, sahib!”

The storekeeper raced up, fought for breath, and jabbered away while plucking at Jake's sleeve. “He has received a reply from Gibraltar,” Jasmyn told Jake. “He cannot understand it, and says you must come back now.”

Jake raced back to the store, slid into the seat, and keyed in the repeat sign. The reply came back immediately:

BINGHAM HERE STOP HAVE BEEN IN FREQUENT TOUCH WITH CLARK STOP NUMEROUS DEVELOPMENTS THIS SIDE STOP REQUEST CONFIRMATION THAT BROTHER OF MAJOR SERVAIS ALIVE AND WELL STOP

Jake pushed aside all wonderment and keyed back:

PATRIQUE ALIVE AND RECOVERING FROM ORDEAL STOP IS HERE WITH US STOP

ASSUME FROM YOUR MESSAGE THAT TRAVEL BACK TO TANGIERS OR RABAT IMPOSSIBLE STOP

AFFIRMATIVE STOP WE ARE HUNTED BOTH BY IBN RASHID AND THE SULTAN'S MEN STOP

A longer pause, then:

URGENT YOU AND MAJOR SERVAIS ESCORT HIS BROTHER TO PORT OF MELILLA STOP WILL HAVE BOAT RENDEZVOUS WITH YOU THERE STOP

EXTREME CAUTION REQUIRED STOP REQUEST ETA STOP

Jake turned to Jasmyn and asked, “Ask Omar if he can take us to Melilla.”

Her eyes widened, as did his at the translation. “You seek to cross the Hamada and the Jebel Sahara? Those reaches are called the Great Burn. They are most dangerous.”

“Does he know if it is possible?”

Omar drew himself up to full height. Through Jasmyn he replied, “I hold the desert wisdom of twenty generations. No one but I could see you across the Hamada hill country and the eastern Sahara. No one.”

Jake recognized a negotiating ploy when he heard one. “Hang on a sec.” He keyed out:

HAVE POSSIBLE GUIDE AND COVER BUT EXPENSIVE STOP

BOAT WILL CARRY ADEQUATE SUM AND AUTHORITY FOR PAYMENT STOP REQUEST ETA STOP

“We will pay you well,” Jake replied to Omar. When that was translated he asked Jasmyn, “Would you come with us?”

“Pierre will be traveling with you?”

“I think so. And Patrique.”

“Then I will go.” Definite. Unequivocal. Determined.

“Ask him how long it would take, please.”

The translated reply came back, “Two weeks if the wind and Allah are with us. If not,” Omar shrugged his reply.

UNDER A MONTH STOP

TOO LONG STOP YOU ARE HEREBY COMMANDED TO MAKE FOR MELILLA WITH ALL POSSIBLE HASTE STOP WILL CLEAR WITH YOUR SUPERIORS THIS SIDE
STOP CONFIRM BROTHER OF MAJOR SERVAIS HAS PROOF OF TRAITOR STOP

AFFIRMATIVE STOP BUT HE IS ILL AND MAY SLOW US DOWN STOP

MAKE HASTE BUT WITH PRUDENCE STOP HOW RECEIVED STOP

LOUD AND CLEAR STOP

GODSPEED

DAVIS BUNN, a professional novelist for over twenty years, is the author of numerous national bestsellers with sales totaling more than six million copies. His work has been published in sixteen languages, and his critical acclaim includes three Christy Awards for excellence in fiction. Formerly an international business executive working in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, Bunn is now a lecturer in creative writing and Writer in Residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University. He and his wife, Isabella, divide their time between the English countryside and the coast of Florida.

Books by Davis Bunn

The Book of Hours
The Great Divide
Winner Take All
The Lazarus Trap
Elixir
Imposter

Lion of Babylon
Rare Earth
All Through the Night
My Soul to Keep

A
CTS OF
F
AITH
*
The Centurion's Wife   •   The Hidden Flame
The Damascus Way

S
ONG OF
A
CADIA
*
The Meeting Place   •   The Sacred Shore
The Birthright   •   The Distant Beacon
The Beloved Land

H
EIRS OF
A
CADIA
†
The Solitary Envoy   •   The Innocent Libertine
The Noble Fugitive   •   The Night Angel
Falconer's Quest

*
with Janette Oke     †with Isabella Bunn

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