Friday, August 9, 2013

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab by Fiona Ingram


Egypt at Last

Finally, it was time for the night flight to Cairo. The next two hours were a flurry of luggage, passports, and check-ins. Now on their second flight, the boys felt like regular travelers.

The next morning they awoke to the Egyptian sun blazing into the plane. Scrambling to the nearest window, they saw puffy clouds like huge blobs of cotton wool drifting past. As the plane descended, the sprawling city of Cairo spread out beneath them. The Nile lazily undulated like a giant serpent slithering through the desert, the sun glittering on its green surface. Far beyond the city, the vast desert disappeared into haze.

“I can’t believe we’re here,” Justin breathed. “It’s awesome.”

“It’s like a dream.” Adam pressed his nose against the glass. “I wonder what we’ll discover.” These last words he mumbled to himself because he didn’t want Justin to laugh at him again.

The plane bumped down, rumbling as it slowed to a halt. It was six in the morning, but the sun shone as brightly as it did at midday back home. The boys emerged from the plane, blinking from the near-blinding light.

Once they were inside the grimy airport building, a short plump Egyptian trotted up to them, waving a sign that read Ramesside Tours. He bowed, introduced himself as Abdul the tour representative, and led them over to a small group of people. A tall, stooped man, who was bald except for sparse tufts of sandy hair around his ears, approached Isabel. He introduced himself as Brigadier Brice-Gibbons.

The boys became interested when they heard the word ‘brigadier.’

“Our great-grandfather saw action in North Africa in World War Two,” Adam said proudly. “Were you there as well, sir?”

The brigadier smiled as he shook their hands. “Pleased to meet you both,” he said in a clipped English accent. “Delighted to make the acquaintance of two well-mannered young men who actually know there was a Second World War.”

Justin said, “We both enjoy history at school. I really like military history. Battles and stuff like that.”

“Really? That’s wonderful.” The old man beamed. “I can tell you boys such stories—”

“Not now, Frederick!” A plump, middle-aged woman with a flushed face interrupted him. She bustled up to the trio, fanning herself with a wide-brimmed hat. She grabbed his arm and dragged him over to a pile of luggage.

“No one wants to hear about your war stories,” she scolded.

The brigadier looked over his shoulder and winked at the two boys. They grinned back.

“Frederick,” the woman instructed, “please find my traveling case. I’m feeling rather faint. I’m sure it’s time for my pills.”

“Of course, Amaryllis,” he said meekly. “Right away, my dear.”

Isabel tried to hide her smile. “Come on, boys. We can meet everyone else later.”

Abdul, clucking behind them like an anxious hen, then whisked everyone to passport control where a tubby customs official gazed sternly from his little cubicle. His uniform was so tightly fastened over his protruding stomach that the buttons strained, ready to pop off. He perched on a high, rather wobbly stool that looked as if it might topple over at any second. He had a round pudding face with little black eyes like raisins. A thin mustache balanced above his upper lip, wriggling up and down when he spoke. It reminded Adam of a caterpillar clinging to a leaf in a strong breeze. The man examined Adam’s passport for a few minutes and then peered over the counter, staring down at the boy. Adam stared back, his gaze unwavering.



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Genre – Juvenile Fiction

Rating – G

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