by Capt. W. E. Johns



5.     MARKOFF COMES BACK  (Pages 63 – 78)


Back in their room, Worrals expresses her disappointment to Frecks.  “The people we saw had no interest in guns, I’m sure of that.  My every instinct tells me that the old man spoke the truth when he said they never touched weapons.  Had he been, he would have shown more interest in our proposition”.  “They seemed quite a decent crowd,” observed Frecks.  “Don’t fool yourself,” said Worrals grimly.  “They behaved as they did because it suited them.  Had it suited them to have our throats cut they would have done it.  Believe you me, we’ve never been on thinner ice than we were in that room.  One whiff of suspicion that we were government agents and we shouldn’t have left the house alive”.  They call for the waiter and Melinos comes in.  They tell him they have sold the charas to the syndicate.  “There’ll be one mighty row about this, if it ever gets out” he says.  Worrals goes to bank the cheque and shortly after she returns, Markoff returns to see them.  He offers to find them a buyer for their guns.  He tells them that he controls everything for his employers, boats, camels, porters – everything.  “With such a widespread and efficient organization at my disposal, it would be strange, would it not, if I did not employ it for one or two sidelines of my own?”  Worrals offers Markoff two hundred and fifty pounds for an introduction to the potential buyer, with a further two hundred and fifty pounds if the deal comes off, plus ten per cent of the net profits.  Markoff says it will take a fortnight to get in touch with the buyer and get a reply.  Worrals asks to go and see the man herself, with a letter of introduction from Markoff, and an escort that he will provide.  The journey will be on water, foot and either horses or camels.  When Markoff departs, Worrals comments, “What a rogue that fellow must be!  It took me all my time not to be sick”.  They tell Melinos that they plan to go on this journey and all they know is that it is somewhere the other side of the Gulf of Suez.  Worrals says she intends to take Maki with them to act as an interpreter if necessary and be a messenger.  Frecks asks Melinos if he could get her a couple of pounds of really good chocolates.