Black Saturday

By Anne

Prologue

The open-backed Jeep bounced along as the driver maneuvered it across the desert road. The occupants rode in silence heading towards their destination. They had been on this desert road for several hours, and they were tired and weary. It was a surprisingly cold, dark night even by Egyptian desert standards. A light wind had picked up and was blowing little granules of sand in their faces. The driver glanced to his right and smiled at his wife, who was holding their two-year-old son in her lap. Their son was sleeping soundly, sucking on his thumb. Realizing he was looking at her, she turned to him and smiled back.

“You’re awfully quiet tonight, Mrs. Stetson,” he said, breaking the silence between them.

“I know. I just have a bad feeling about this assignment.”

“It’s just a simple milk run.” He reached across and caressed her hand. “We’ve done drops like this a hundred times. What could go wrong?”

“Milk can sometimes go sour.”

He smiled. “Not that I don’t trust your instincts, Mrs. Stetson, but what makes this assignment different?”

She shook her head, chuckling softly. “I don’t know. Let’s just say, I’ll be glad when it’s all over and we’re back home.”

“It’ll be over soon enough, my dear.” He gently squeezed her hand before returning his to the steering wheel. “And if I thought there was any danger at all, I wouldn’t have brought the baby.” Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her nodding her head in agreement.

They continued to follow the river for a while, noticing the gradual change of the scenery as they neared the city. Signs of habitation became more common, the closer they drove to the capital the denser the urban sprawl appeared.

In the city, the dirt and squalor was obvious and horrific to Western eyes and poverty was rampant. Gradually the streets became cleaner and wider as they entered the quarter where foreigners had gravitated, to be near their embassies.

“We’re here,” he sighed with relief as he drove the Jeep through the wrought iron gates. “We’re supposed to be meeting a James and Emily Woodward.” He steered the vehicle around the circular driveway parking near the front steps of the embassy complex building.

A brunette woman in her early thirties came hurrying down the stairs. On reaching their vehicle, she exuberantly opened the passenger door. “Here, let me take that baby from you before he catches a cold.” Her accent was decidedly British and she held out her arms to take the toddler from his mother. “You must be exhausted from your journey. Oh, I’m sorry. Where are my manners? You must be the Stetsons? My name is Emily-Emily Woodward.”

“Hello, Emily. My name is Matt, my wife Jennie and the one in your arms is our son, Lee.”

“Pleased to meet you and welcome to the British Embassy in Cairo.” She smiled.

Act One

4247 Maplewood Drive

Friday, January 19, 1990

4:30 PM

Dotty sneezed and rubbed her eyes, closing the pull-down stairs that led to the attic. She had been looking for baby toys that might have belonged to the boys when they were younger, but had discovered much of it had been given away or thrown out long ago. In her hands she clutched a ragged-looking teddy bear. She had found it in a box that was labeled Lee’s. She wondered if it had sentimental value to him. He still spoke so little about his parents or his past; she knew most of the memories were still painful for him. She placed the teddy bear on the fireplace mantel, thinking she would ask him about it when Lee and Amanda returned home from work. She looked at the time and gasped not realizing how late it was. “I better start dinner.” She scurried into the kitchen. Hearing the front door open, she knew Lee and Amanda were home.

“You’re home early, dears.” She opened the refrigerator taking out the chicken and put the pieces into a frying pan on the stove.

“Yes, mother. Lee had a little accident at work.” Lee and Amanda came around the corner and Dotty could see Lee’s left arm wrapped up in bandages. “Goodness, Lee. What did you do to your arm?”

“Mother, let’s just say a milk run went sour and leave it at that.” Amanda opened the cupboard and took out a jar of peaches. Opening the jar, she poured them into a bowl.

“Well, despite that little incident we did get the job done. Don’t worry Dotty it’s a little sprain. It will heal in no time.” He sat down, placing his arm on the countertop.

The doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it,” said Lee, getting up from the stool. He walked over to the front door and opened it. Standing on the front porch smiling was Emily Farnsworth holding several packages. “Emily! What a pleasant surprise. We weren’t expecting you. Come in. Amanda’s in the kitchen.”

“Who is it, honey?” Amanda called out.

“Oh, just an old friend,” he said coming around the corner with Emily.

“Emily! It’s so nice to see you. Come sit down. Mother could you please take Emily’s packages?”

“Thank you, Dotty. Could you place them in the family room for me? They’re presents for the baby.”

“Now Emily. You didn’t need to do that.” Amanda gave Emily a hug.

“Yes, I did. I’m going to spoil that grand niece or nephew of mine.” She touched Amanda’s belly.

“Where’s Charles?” Lee asked.

“He couldn’t come out with me this time. Oh, I see you are cooking dinner. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“Emily, you’re not intruding,” Amanda told her. “Please stay for dinner. We have plenty; the boys are staying with their father this weekend.”

“As long as I’m not imposing.”

“Then it’s settled and mother and I will finish getting dinner ready. Why don’t you sit down in the family room with Lee?”

“Shall we?” Lee extended his good arm to Emily and walked into the family room.

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“Thank you, Dotty and Amanda dinner was wonderful.” Emily placed her napkin down. She then rose and picked up her plate.

“Now, don’t worry about clearing the table, Emily. I can do them. Go spend some time with Lee and Amanda,” Dotty said.

“Thank you Dotty.”

The three of them walked into the family room. Lee helped Amanda sit down on the sofa. Then sat down next to her. Emily walked over to the fireplace mantel, noticing the teddy bear sitting there. She picked him up. “This looks rather old. How long have you had this Amanda?”

Amanda looked up at Emily. “I don’t recognize him. Mother, do you know anything about this teddy bear on the mantel?”

“What dear?” Dotty asked coming into the family room with a dishtowel in her hand. “Oh, I found it in a box of Lee’s up in the attic.”

“Lee, who’s your friend?” she asked handing him the teddy bear.

Lee smiled. “I have not seen this guy in years. My mum said a friend of the family’s gave him to me when I was two. I think I had the measles then and she brought him back from a trip to-” he tried to think.

“Paris,” Emily finished for him.

“How did you know that, Emily?” Lee asked.

“Lee, did I ever tell you the story about how I got started in the business?”

Lee looked over at Amanda, smiling. “Sort of like Amanda, accidentally.”

“You were asked to deliver a message,” Amanda interjected, “from Cairo to Gibraltar.”

“That’s correct, but there’s more to the story.” She paused, collecting her thoughts. “It was exactly 38 years ago today. My late husband, James, and I were living at the British Embassy in Cairo and we had a young family staying with us at the compound. A husband, wife and their two-year-old son…”

British Embassy Compound

Cairo, Egypt

Saturday, January 19, 1952

7:00 AM

Jennifer Stetson and her son were already sitting down at the breakfast table when Matt entered the kitchen the following morning. He couldn’t help but smile at the makeshift high chair that Lee was using. Emily and Jennie had made good use of a stack of books, and Lee was perched on top of the stack, eating a breakfast of banana slices, porridge, and toast. At least fifty percent of which was making it to his mouth.

“Good morning, Mr. Stetson. Can I make you some breakfast?”

“No thanks, Emily. I’m not much of a breakfast eater. And it’s Matt.”

“It’s not healthy to skip breakfast, Matt. It would be no trouble to make you a nice breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast. No trouble at all.”

“Thanks for the offer, Emily, but I’ll just have toast and coffee.” He swiped a slice of bacon from the table and quickly ate it.

“Give up, Emily.” Jennie helped Lee with his porridge as she spoke. “I’ve been trying for years to change his breakfast eating habits.”

After finishing their breakfast, Matt stood up. “We need to get going if we’re going to make that appointment on time.”

Jennie picked Lee up and taking a tea towel, she washed his face and hands.

“I have an idea,” Emily bent down and smiled at the toddler. “Why don’t you leave Lee here with me?”

Jennie hesitated for a moment. “Are you sure? He can sometimes be a handful.”

Lee stood behind his mother, hiding behind her skirt.

“He can also be a little shy at times,” Jennie apologized.

“I would love to watch him.” She stood up and looked at the adults. “Go on you two-or you’ll be late.”

Matt shrugged his shoulders. “Okay, Emily, if you’re sure.”

“He and I will be just fine.” She leaned down and took the boy’s hand. “Come on Lee; let’s go find something to play with. I think we have some building blocks around here somewhere.”

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The sun was nearing its zenith by the time Matt and Jennie arrived at the Cairo Opera House. Matt found a space in front of the building and stepped out of the vehicle. He moved quickly around the front of the Jeep, reaching his wife’s door in time to help her out.

Jennie left her husband lounging against the side of the vehicle and strode confidently up to the box office at the front of the building.

A bored attendant was sitting behind the rather dirty glass. “Sabakh-a-nur, na’m, matha tatlubu?”

“Yes, do you have tickets reserved in the name Stedman?”

“Just a moment, please.” The attendant opened a drawer and flicked through a pile of envelopes; pulling one out he handed it to Jennie. “Two first row balcony seats.”

“Thank you.”

“Tfadl. Can I interest you in a program?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“Tfadl. Enjoy the show.”

“Thank you. I’m sure we will.”

Jennie took the program and tickets and headed back to the Jeep where Matt was already seated back behind the steering wheel. She slipped into the passenger seat and handed him the program. He flipped open the booklet and took out the envelope that was hidden inside. Opening the envelope, he read the note that it contained.

“Well?” Jennie asked.

“Nothing. Another nothing.” Matt hit the steering wheel with his fist. “Jennie, I swear.”

“Matt, please don’t. Let’s go back to the embassy and call headquarters. See what they have to say.”

Matt nodded. Pulling away from the curb, he drove down the road.

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“Mummy,” Lee yelled, coming down the marble staircase. He was holding onto the rail with one hand and holding onto Emily’s hand with his other. He was dressed in a Buster Brown outfit.

“Lee.” Jennie squatted down and enveloped her son in a hug. “Were you a good boy for Emily?”

“Uh-ha. We pway twucks.” He imitated ‘vroom-vroom’ noises. “And Emwe gave me cracka and juice.”

“And what do we say?”

“Tank ew,” he grinned, showing his dimples.

“You’re welcome, Lee.”

Then Lee sneezed.

“Gesundheit,” Matt said.

“Dada.” Lee held up his arms. “Horsie ride.”

Matt picked up his son and settled him on his shoulders. “The phone lines are down, so I couldn’t call the office.”

“I’m sorry about that Matt; it happens a lot around here.”

“It’s okay, Emily. I hope you don’t mind us staying for another night.”

“No, no trouble. You’re welcome to stay as long as you need to. Why don’t you take Lee outside and walk around the gardens and the riverfront,” she suggested. “Jennie and I can stay for a spot of tea and get to know each other better.” Emily turned to Jennie. “Care to join me in the drawing room?”

“I’d love to.”

Lee sneezed again.

Jennie looked at him concerned. “I do hope he’s not coming down with something.”

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“Oh Emily, these drawings are marvelous. Did you do them?” Jennie wandered around the drawing room, looking at the framed sketches that adorned the walls.

“Yes, I took some art classes when I was at RADA.”

“The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. What a prestigious school! So do you do much acting?”

“Not as much as I would like to any more.” She admitted. “But I have my drawing and my duties here at the embassy.” She paused and then with a hint of sadness in her voice said, “Oh, who am I kidding? Actually, I’m tired of hosting teas and fanning myself on the veranda.” She sighed. “So what about you, Jennie? Must be difficult being a mum and-a spy.”

Jennie laughed. “Oh, Emily, you tease. What makes you think I’m a spy?”

“You have to remember I grew up in London, during the war. I know a spy when I see one. So how long have you been one?”

Jennie took out a deep long breath. “I’ve been a full-time spy for about five years now. Matt recruited me back during the war. I helped him out from time to time and found I enjoyed it, so I went to formal operative training after the war ended and became Matt’s partner around the time Matt asked me to marry him.”

“How romantic,” Emily sighed.

Matt came into the room carrying Lee. “Giving away secrets, dear?” he teased.

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Jennie walked over the sink with the last of the dinner dishes. “Here, you are, Emily. Let me wipe up.”

“No thanks, Jennie. Why don’t you and Matt enjoy a nice walk through the gardens? Lee’s asleep and you two should enjoy some time to yourselves. I can manage by myself.” She shooed them out the French doors.

Matt smiled at Jennie. “Walk with me,” he said putting his arm around her shoulder. They walked through the gardens enjoying a quiet moment together. Soon they reached the edge of the embassy lawn that faced the riverfront. They both looked at the lights illuminating the cluttered city that surrounded the Nile and the boats bobbing in the water, basking in the moonlight. Matt suddenly turned to his wife, pulled her into a warm embrace, and held her close. “I am so glad you are here with me,” he whispered into her ear.

She shivered. “Your touch makes me quiver.”

“Quiver?” he said grinning. Then looking into her eyes he whispered, “I love you, Jennie.” He gently touched his lips to hers.

Later that night they walked up the stairs towards the guest bedroom. “I had a good time tonight, Mr. Stetson.”

“The night’s still young,” he replied, winking.

“Hold that thought,” she said, kissing his cheek. “I want to check on Lee first.”

She walked into Lee’s room and heard him cough. Matt leaned against the doorframe and watched his wife as she knelt down next to their son’s bed, brushing away a stray lock of hair from his forehead. Resting the back of her hand against Lee’s forehead, Jennie realized he felt very hot to the touch. “Matt,” she whispered. “He’s burning up.” Concerned, she gently caressed her son’s cheek.

“Mummy?” Lee’s voice was raspy, and when he opened his eyes, they were unfocused and red. He coughed again and began to scratch his chest.

Jennie lifted up his pajama top and saw a rash. She pulled his shirt back down.

“Shush. It’s okay. Mummy’s here, sweetheart.” She kissed his forehead and glanced back at Matt. “I think we need to call a doctor.”

“I’ll wake up Emily.” With one last worried glance towards his son, Matt headed out of the room.

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Matt and Jennie hovered over Lee, while the doctor looked him over. He took a thermometer out of his bag and placed it into Lee’s mouth. Emily stood just inside the doorway. “Poor little tyke,” she whispered.

The doctor put his thermometer and stethoscope back into his bag and stood up.

“What is it, doctor?” Matt asked.

“He’s running a temperature of thirty-nine degrees Celsius and has a rash; the lymph nodes are swollen as is his tongue. He has all the signs of measles. The best thing you can do for him is try and keep him comfortable as possible.” He moved towards the door, which Matt was holding open. “He’ll need lots of rest and plenty of fluids. A bath with Epsom salts will help with the itching.”

“Thank you, doctor.” Matt left the door open and returned to his son’s bedside.

Emily came into the room with a damp washcloth handing it to Jennie. “Thank you, Emily. I’m sorry about this.” She folded the washcloth, placing it on Lee’s forehead.

“Don’t be dear. Save your strength and take care of that son of yours. If you need anything, I’m just down the hall.”

Jennie gave Emily a shy smile. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” replied Emily, closing the bedroom door.

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Sunday, January 20, 1952

8:15 AM

Emily walked into Lee’s room. Matt was asleep in the chair, his head on Lee’s bed. “Matt,” she whispered, shaking him. “I’m sorry to have to wake you, but this envelope arrived by special courier this morning.”

“Thanks, Emily.” Matt stretched and took the envelope from her. He quickly scanned the contents and replaced the letter in the envelope. “Are the phones lines still down?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so. Problems?”

Jennie came into the bedroom; she tightened the sash of her bathrobe.

“Problem?” She looked over at her sleeping son. “Is there something wrong with Lee?”

“No. Not Lee.” He handed her the letter. “This just arrived. As you can see it’s from the Foreign Office.” He didn’t even notice that Emily had slipped out of the room.

Jennie read the letter. “We can’t do it Matt. Not with Lee sick.”

“I know. But I have no way of letting them know that we’re unavailable, not until it would be too late,” he said frustrated.

A sly smile started to form on Jennie’s lips. “I recognize that smile. Whatever are you thinking, my dear?”

“I think I have the perfect solution to our problem. Why don’t you take Emily?”

“What? Are you crazy? I’m not going to take some untrained, civilian housewife on assignment.” His voice raised an octave.

“It’s perfect Matt. The scenario says man and wife and she’s about the same age as me, a brunette and British. She’s also a trained actress.”

“I don’t know, Jennie.” Matt shook his head.

“Look Matt-it’s an emergency. We have no choice. You have a job to do and I need to stay here with Lee. You’ll make the best of it-you always do.”

Matt shook his head again. “A housewife? All right, I’ll ask her.”

Act Two

4247 Maplewood Drive

7:30 PM

The sound of the mantel clock chiming on the half hour was the only sound in the room.

Amanda looked over at Lee and could see the stunned look on his face. “Emily, are you telling me you met my parents? And me?”

Emily nodded her head.

“And your first assignment was with my dad and you portrayed my mum?” Amanda squeezed Lee’s hand, giving him strength to continue. “So what happened next?”

Emily opened her purse, took out a tattered post card, and handed it to Lee and Amanda. The worn photo showed a blue and gold carriage car. Amanda turned it over and read, “Simplon Orient Express…”

Sirkeci Station-Istanbul, Turkey

Simplon Orient Express

Monday, January 21, 1952

9:45 PM

“Here you are Mr. and Mrs. Stetson.” The steward, dressed in a dark blue overcoat and pants, laid their bags down on the floor. “You have a sofa that converts into a bed, a foot stool, wash basin with hot and cold water, linens and towels. Breakfast is served at 7:00 am in the dining car, located up front and the train will be departing in 15 minutes. If you need fresh towels or anything else just ring the bell.”

“Thanks Michel.” Matt said looking at the cabin steward’s nametag. He opened up his wallet and handed him a tip.

Emily took off her coat, hung it up on the coat hook, and put her bag in the storage compartment. Matt did the same and began to unbutton his shirt.

“What are you doing?” Emily asked, raising her eyebrows.

“I’m going to sleep. It’s been a long day,” he said still unbuttoning his shirt. “Do you mind?”

Emily shook her head, and then looked around the compartment. “Matt, we seem to have a slight problem.”

“Oh, and what would that be?”

“There appears to be only one bed.” Emily looked down at the floor.

He smiled. “There’s no problem. I’ll be on top.”

Her head shot up quickly. “What?”

“Emily,” he explained, grinning. “It’s okay. The bed converts into two bunks. I’ll take the top bunk and you can have the bottom.”

“Yes of course,” she blushed. “I’ll give you some privacy and I think I’ll go change in the powder room.” Grabbing her nightgown and bathrobe, she then left the compartment, sliding the door closed.

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“Matt, I thought you weren’t a breakfast eater?” Emily asked as the walked down the aisle way.

“I’ll eat breakfast if it will help maintain our cover.” He stopped in the middle of the aisle, turning to look at her. “You did review your scenario, correct?”

Emily nodded her head. “Yes, we are Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Stetson and we sell and buy rare wines. We’re on our way to Paris looking to add to our private collection.” She paused for a moment. “I don’t know how you do it.”

“Listen Emily. You’re an actress, just think of it as playing a role in a play and you’ll be fine. Just follow my lead.”

Emily nodded again. Matt put his hand in the small of her back, guiding her towards the dining car.

Matt pulled the chair out for Emily and after she sat down he pushed the chair back in for her. “Good morning,” the waiter in a white shirt and black pants said. “My name is Jacques. I will be your server this morning. Coffee?” The waiter filled their cups. “The specialty this morning is a three cheese omelet and fresh baked croissants.”

“That actually sounds good. I’ll have that. Same for you, dear?”

“Yes, thank you,” answered Emily.

Emily looked around the dining car. The tables were covered with crisp white linens with china cups and saucers and sterling silverware, which lay on top. The décor was glossy wood paneling, polished brass, and red and gold curtains.

Matt reached across the table; taking Emily’s hand, he kissed her palm. Emily looked at him, confused. “What are you doing?”

“Maintaining our cover,” he whispered. ‘Was Jennie ever this bad?’ He wondered, and then smiling to himself, he had to admit, yes as a matter of fact she had been. “We’re married, supposed to be in love and on one of the most romantic rail excursions in the world.”

Emily tried to relax.

The gentleman at the table next to them turned to talk to them. “Hello, my name is Stefan Muir-you sound like you’re an American? I’m always glad to run into a follow American.” Reaching across the table, he shook Matt’s hand.

“Hello Stefan. I’m Matthew Stetson and my wife, Emily. Yes, I’m an American. My wife was raised in Britain, but we now reside in D.C. How about you?”

“I live in a small fishing community-Stonington, Maine-you probably never heard of it. No one ever has,” he explained.

Matt shook his head. “No, sorry can’t say I have. So is your trip business or pleasure?”

“Mostly business, but some pleasure too. I’m an artist. I paint dioramas for cruise lines-so I get to tour the various cities cruise ships go-on their dime. But I had to experience the Orient Express for myself, while I was out here. How about you two?”

“Same here, both business and pleasure. We collect rare wines and are on our way to Paris.”

“So how long have you been collecting wines?”

“For a while, now,” Matt said.

“Not very long. I mean it doesn’t seem very long at all to me.” Emily rushed into speech embarrassed by her gaffe. “I can’t believe it has been several years already.”

Matt shot her a ‘nice save’ look.

“I’m a bit of a wine expert myself. What are you looking for?”

“1929.”   “1928 Bordeaux.”

Matt cleared his throat and reaching across the table, patted Emily’s hand. “1928 or ’29 Bordeaux is what we’re looking for, but we’re particularly fond of the ’28.”

“Good choices. You know your wines.”

“I would love to see your work sometime, Mr. Muir. I’m an amateur artist myself.”

“It’s Stefan, Emily. What medium?”

“Drawing-mostly I work with charcoal.”

Stefan nodded his head. “Sure. I would love to see your work, too. I’m in compartment number 4, if you would like to stop by.”

The waiter arrived with their breakfast and placed it down on the table. “Can I get you anything else?”

“No thank you, Jacques.” Emily opened her napkin and spread it across her lap.

“Your food has arrived. I’ll leave you two to eat. It was nice talking to both of you,” Stefan said.

“Thank you, Stefan,” they both answered. Emily added. “It was nice meeting you and I hope to see some of your work soon.”

“You too.” He nodded politely.

Matt smiled respectfully at Stefan then turned his attention back to Emily. “What are you doing?” he whispered, through clenched teeth.

“Eating.”

“That’s not what I mean. Are you intentionally trying to blow our covers?”

“No. What did I do?”

“Being an artist was not part of the scenario.”

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”

Both Matt and Emily were silent for a moment. “I’m sorry, Emily.” He ran his hand through his hair. “That was a good save back there.”

“Thanks.” She nodded her head once. “Apology accepted.”

Matt and Emily finished their meal in companionable silence.

In the corner of the car, an older gentleman watched them suspiciously, as they left the dining car. He folded his newspaper, placing it on the table in front of him.

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British Embassy Compound

Cairo, Egypt

12:00 PM

Jennie came into Lee’s room carrying a tray with a bowl of soup and a glass of juice. She sat down in the chair next to his bed. She smoothed down his hair, humming ‘Hush Little Baby.’

Lee opened his eyes and turned to look at her. “Mummy?”

“It’s okay, Lee. Mummy’s here.” She put her hand on his forehead to see if he was still hot. “How do you feel?”

“Hurts.”

Taking another pillow, she tucked it behind him. “I brought you some orange juice and chicken noodle soup. I want you to try and drink some juice for me.”

Lee slowly sipped his juice.

“Good boy. Do you think you can try and eat some soup?”

He nodded his head.

Jennie took the spoon and fed him a couple of bites. “More?”

“Mo.” Lee slowly nodded his head. She gave him another spoonful and he opened his mouth for her, allowing the warm broth and noodles to go down his sore throat.

“More?” she asked him again.

He shook his head again, pushing the spoon away.

“Okay. How about you try and get some sleep.”

“No, not tired,” said the cranky toddler. “I wa dada.”

“I know, sweetheart. He’ll be home soon. How about I read you a book and sit with you until you fall asleep?” She gently stroked his cheek.

He cuddled up to her.

Jennie opened a book and began to read, “Five little puppies dug a hole under the fence and went for a walk in the wide, wide world…”

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Northern Italian Countryside

Simplon Orient Express

Tuesday, January 22, 1952

4:15 PM

Emily finished her afternoon tea and replaced the cup on the saucer. Daintily she wiped her mouth with her napkin. “Matt?”

“Yes, Emily?” he looked up, putting his cup down.

“Would it be all right if I visited Mr. Muir and showed him my drawings?”

“Yes, I don’t see any harm in doing that. Besides, I need to stretch my legs. Shall we?” He stood up to leave.

Emily reached behind her to grab her portfolio and walked out of the compartment. Entering the aisle way, Matt slid the door shut behind them.

They walked down the corridor, towards the sleeping car behind them. Matt held Emily’s arm walking through the doors to the coupling platform and helped her into the other car.

Reaching the cabin door, Matt knocked.

“Yes?” a gentleman called as the door slid aside. “Mr. and Mrs. Stetson. Good to see you. Please come in.” He invited them into his suite.

Emily and Matt sat down on the sofa and Stefan sat down in a chair. “I see you brought your portfolio. May I?”

Emily handed him her portfolio. Stefan opened it and examined the drawings. “Nice. These are very good, Emily. It is Emily, correct?”

“Correct.”

“You are quite talented. Thanks for showing them to me.” He walked over to a steamer trunk that sat on the floor. Opening the trunk, he took out some sketchbooks and handed them to Emily. “Some of my drawings. But I also do watercolors, oils and a little metal work.”

Emily thumbed through the books. “This is very good, Stefan. I can see why the cruise lines hired you. Thank you for showing them to me.”

“Dear, we probably should get back to our room to change for dinner.” Matt took hold of Emily’s arm. “It was nice visiting with you.” He shook Stefan’s hand. Emily handed back the sketchbooks and they went back into the aisle way.

They had just passed through the doors and were standing on the coupling platform when a man surprised Matt and punched him in the face. Matt stumbled backwards and then the man grabbed him by the shirt collar. “Emily run,” Matt yelled. Emily ran through the second set of doors.

“We meet again, Silver Fox.” The man said.

“Khovansky? When did you crawl out from under your rock?” Matt used his free hand to wipe blood from his lip.

The KGB agent laughed. “Doesn’t matter. The important thing is we have a score to settle.” He squeezed Matt tighter. Matt kneed the Russian in the groin. Doubling over with pain, he dropped Matt and Matt kicked him in the face.

Matt then jumped from the platform to the ladder on the side of the train, and climbed to the top. He looked around realizing he was trapped. The KGB agent had recovered quickly and was already climbing off the ladder and joining Matt on the roof of the train. The train chugged along down the tracks, steam pouring from the funnel. Khovansky pulled out a knife and lunged at Matt. Matt backed away; until he reached the edge of the car and he jumped over to the other car, then back down the ladder. Matt opened the door and ran down the aisle way to the end of the car. He stepped out onto the platform and was grabbed by the neck.

Khovansky had a good grip on him and carried him to the edge of the platform, dangling his feet over the side of the train. Matt would not let go as he twisted and turned trying to free himself. His toes grabbed the edge of the platform and he got himself turned around. Emily came up behind Matt and the Russian. Swinging her portfolio, she hit the Russian in the back and he fell forward, tumbling off the train.

Emily watched the Russian roll down the hillside. “Oh my goodness.”

Matt stood on the coupling platform, bent over with his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. “Emily, you were great.”

“I really didn’t do that much.”

“No really, that was great. You thought on you feet, had the presence of mind to knock him out and-and you saved my life. Thank you.”

“It was nothing, Matt,” Emily shrugged, and putting an arm around his waist helped him back into the car.

Continued

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Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King and its characters belong to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Enterprises. No infringement is intended. This is written for entertainment purposes only.