"That may have served you in the past," I retorted. "But there are more expeditions in the field every year. Face it, Emerson. You must apologize to M. Maspero if you hope to get"
"Apologize be damned!" Emerson slammed his cup into the saucer. It was the third cup he had cracked that week. "Maspero was in the wrong. He was the only one with the authority to stop Davis wrecking that bloody tomb, and he bloody well refused to exert it."
Despite the bad language and the sheer volume of his reverberant baritone voice, I thought I detected the faintest tone of wavering. I recognized that tone. Emerson had had second thoughts but was too stubborn to back down. He wanted me to bully him into doing so. I therefore obliged him.
"That may be so, Emerson, but it is water over the dam. Do you intend to sit here in Kent all winter sulking like Achilles in his tent? What about the rest of us? Its all very well for David; I am sure he would prefer to remain in England with his betrothed, but will you condemn Ramsesto say nothing of me and Nefretto boredom and inactivity?"
Ramses put his cup down and cleared his throat. "Uhexcuse me"
Emerson cut him short with an impetuous gesture. A benevolent smile wreathed his well-cut lips. "Say no more, my boy. Your mother is right to remind me that I have obligations to others, obligations for which I will sacrifice my own principles. What would be your choice for this season, Ramses? Amarna? Beni Hassan? I will leave it to you to decide."
He took out his pipe, looking very pleased with himselfas well he might. I had given him the excuse for which he yearned. It was what I had intended to do, but a certain degree of exasperation prompted me to reply before Ramses could do so.
"I believe the Germans have applied for Amarna, Emerson. Why cannot we return to Thebes, where we have a comfortable house and many friends?"
From Guardian of the Horizon, pages 1-8, by Elizabeth Peters. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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