They Came to Baghdad

Free They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie

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Authors: Agatha Christie
    Victoria looked round her. She decided that air travel was really rather boring. She opened a magazine, found herself faced with an advertisement that said, ‘Do you want to increase your efficiency as a shorthand typist?’ shuddered, shut the magazine, leant back, and began to think of Edward.
    They came down at Castel Benito Aerodrome in a storm of rain. Victoria was by now feeling slightly sick, and it took all her energies to accomplish her duties vis-à-vis her employer. They were driven through scurrying rain to the rest-house. The magnificent Sir Rupert, Victoria noted, had been met by an officer in uniform with red tabs, and hurried off in a staff car to some dwelling of the mighty in Tripolitania.
    They were allotted rooms. Victoria helped Mrs Clipp with her toilet and left her to rest on her bed in a dressing-gown until it was time for the evening meal. Victoria retired to her own room, lay down and closed her eyes, grateful to be spared the sight of the heaving and sinking floor.
    She awakened an hour later in good health and spirits and went to help Mrs Clipp. Presently a rather more peremptory air hostess instructed them that cars were ready to convey them to the evening meal. After dinner Mrs Clipp got into conversation with some of her fellow travellers. The man in the loud check coat seemed to have taken a fancy to Victoria and told her at some length all about the manufacture of lead pencils.
    Later they were conveyed back to their sleeping quarters and told curtly that they must be ready to depart at 5.30 a.m. the following morning.
    ‘We haven’t seen much of Tripolitania, have we?’ said Victoria rather sadly. ‘Is air travel always like this?’
    ‘Why, yes, I’d say so. It’s just positively sadistic the way they get you up in the mornings. After that, often they keep you hanging round the aerodrome for an hour or two. Why, in Rome, I remember they called us at 3.30. Breakfast in the restaurant at 4 o’clock. And then actually at the Airport we didn’t leave until eight. Still the great thing is they get you to your destination right away with no fooling about on the way.’
    Victoria sighed. She could have done with a good deal of fooling about. She wanted to see the world.
    ‘And what do you know, my dear,’ continued Mrs Clipp excitedly, ‘you know that interesting looking man? The Britisher? The one that there’s all the fuss about. I’ve found out who he is. That’s Sir Rupert Crofton Lee, the great traveller. You’ve heard of him, of course.’
    Yes, Victoria remembered now. She had seen several pictures in the press about six months ago. Sir Rupert was a great authority upon the interior of China. He was one of the few people who had been to Tibet and visited Lhasa. He had travelled through the unknown parts of Kurdistan and Asia Minor. His books had had a wide sale, for they had been racily and wittily written. If Sir Rupert was just noticeably a self-advertiser, it was with good reason. He made no claims that were not fully justified. The cloak with the hood and the wide-brimmed hat were, Victoria remembered now, a deliberate fashion of his own choosing.
    ‘Isn’t that thrilling now?’ demanded Mrs Clipp with all a lion-hunter’s enthusiasm as Victoria adjusted the bedclothes over her recumbent form.
    Victoria agreed that it was very thrilling, but she said to herself that she preferred Sir Rupert’s books to his personality. He was, she considered, what children call ‘a show-off’!
    A start was made in good order the next morning. The weather had cleared and the sun was shining. Victoria still felt disappointed to have seen so little of Tripolitania. Still, the plane was due to arrive at Cairo by lunch-time and the departure to Baghdad did not take place until the following morning, so she would at least be able to see a little of Egypt in the afternoon.
    They were flying over the sea, but clouds soon blocked out the blue water below them and Victoria settled

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