Helen returned to Beth’s boarding house and was sipping tea in the kitchen when Andrew came back.
“Cup of tea?” Beth asked him.
“Yes, please.” Andrew sank down wearily. “Well, why aren’t you writing this up?” he demanded.
“I’m still asking questions. What were they smuggling?”
Andrew scrubbed his face.
“Egyptian artefacts. With the Luxor tombs being opened, what was a centuries-old local trade in thieving has become an international operation. There’s a huge demand for these artefacts in the west. Priceless treasures from the past, shipped out to Britain, then on from us to collectors in America and Sweden. At least this is one consignment we can hand back to the Egyptian ambassador.”
“Was there a mother ship out at sea?”
“Arrested by the customs service.”
“And you. Exactly what and who are you?”
Andrew shook his head.
“I’m not in your story,” he said. “Treat this as a tip-off from locals to the local police, and a major coup for them.”
“Are you a policeman?”
“I’m not in your story,” he said patiently. “If I am, your story will be blocked and you could finish up in prison . . . under State Secrecy legislation.”
“Are you Secret Service then? Military Intelligence . . . Internal Security . . . Section Five?”
Open-mouthed, Beth poured a cup and half a saucer of tea.
“Can I ask a question?” Andrew demanded.
“Of me?” Beth said hopefully.
“No, our demon reporter. Would you like to come out for dinner with me tomorrow night?” Andrew asked, then hauled out his pocket watch. “Correction, tonight.”
“I thought you’d never ask,” Helen said.
“Hello?” Jake Forbes’s gruff voice seemed to come from almost a world away down the post office phone.
“Helen Malcolmson here,” she said.
“Well, have you got your copy ready?” he demanded.
“No flowery stuff, no pretty words and poetry?”
“Hard facts,” she said. “Not a word that wasn’t needed.”
“Let me be the judge of that. When can you get it to me?”
“Tomorrow,” she replied. “Tomorrow morning, sharp.”
“I’ve another feature edited for Tuesday’s edition,” he muttered.
“Forget the feature,” she said. “Hold the front page for me.”
Hanging up the phone, she turned back to Andrew.
“Are you always so stroppy?” he demanded, wrapping his arms around her.
She snuggled in.
“Only when I have to be,” she replied. “So, watch out!”