“It’s all over the place that disaster of some sort is going to happen today,” said Sir Louis. “It only needs a hatful of rumours to set Jerusalemites at one another’s throats. But we’re ready for them. The first to start trouble this morning will be the first to get it. Now—sorry you’ve no time for breakfast— here’s the Jaffa Gate. Will you walk through the city to that street where Grim talked with you from a roof last night? You’ll find him thereabouts. Sure you know the way? Good-bye. Good luck! No, you won’t need a pass; there’ll be nobody to interfere with you.”
“Dead or alive, sahib.”
I did get breakfast nevertheless, but in a strange place. The city shutters were coming down only under protest, because, just as in Boston and other hubs of sanctity, shop-looting starts less than five minutes after the police let go control. There was an average, that morning, of about ten rumours to the ear. So the shop-keepers had to be ordered to open up. About the mildest rumour was that the British had decide to vacate and to leave the Zionists in charge of things. You couldn’t fool an experienced Jew as to what would happen in that event. There was another rumour that Mustapha Kemal was on the march. Another that an Arab army was invading from the direction of El-Kerak. But there were British officers walking about with memorandum books, and a fifty-pound fine looked more serious than an outbreak that had not occurred yet. So they were putting down their shutters.
I had nearly reached the Haram-es-Sheriff, and was passing a platoon of Sikhs who dozed beside their rifles near a street corner, when Grim’s voice hailed me through the half-open door behind them. He was back in his favourite disguise as a Bedouin, squatting on a mat near the entrance of a vaulted room, where he could see through the door without being seen.
“This is headquarters for the present,” he explained. “Soon as we bag the game we’ll run ’em in here quick as lightning. Most likely keep ’em here all day, so’s not to have to parade ’em through the streets until after dark. A man’s coming soon with coffee and stuff to eat.”
“What’s become of Suliman?”
“He’s shooting craps with two other young villains close to where you left him last night. I’m hoping he’ll get word with his mother.”
Grim looked more nervous than I had ever seen him. There was a deep frown between his eyes. He talked as if he were doing it to keep himself from worrying.
“What’s eating you?” I asked.
“Noureddin Ali. After all this trouble to bag the whole gang without any fuss there’s a chance he’s given us the slip. I watched all night to make sure he didn’t come out of that door. He didn’t. But I’ve no proof he’s in there. Scharnhoff’s in there, and five of the chief conspirators. Noureddin Ali may be. But a man brought me a story an hour ago about seeing him on the city wall. However, here’s the food. So let’s eat.”