Read chapter One from 5 Beds to Mecca

Chapter ONE

Digitally transcribed for the Gardner Francis Fox Adventure Library

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There was a gun pressed into my bare belly.

I was standing stark naked in the bridal suite of the Hotel Mamounia in Marrakesh, Morocco. My little pink toes were curling into the blue wall-to-wall carpeting, scratching with delight. Holding the gun was David Anderjanian, a big blonde Viking of a man with a magnificent tan over every inch of his equally unclad body. David is my case officer for the organization known as L.U.S.T., the League of Underground Spies and Terrorists.

Me, I’m Eve Drum, the lady from L.U.S.T.

Double Oh Sex, in other words.

“No fair, David,” I was giggling. “You have two guns.”

I was staring below the Smith and Wesson 150 he was jabbing into my navel, to where his number two gun was aiming at me. David is a very well-armed man.

“You have a couple of cannons yourself,” he quipped, eyeballing my female-female breasts, all 38 inches D cup of them, where they stood at attention, brown nipples saluting. They were rock-hard as they aimed themselves at his broad chest.

“Let’s shoot each other,” I suggested.

“Later, you beautiful bed-mate,” he laughed. “Right now, we have business to attend to. I’ve got to coach you on foreign protocol and how they do things in this corner of the world.”

I sighed. I can never get anywhere with David when there is business to discuss. “All right. To business. Talk.”

He kept staring at my nipples and licking his lips. I had an idea the business end of the discussion wouldn’t take very long. David had a low boiling point, like me. The bed was waiting, clean and neat. The coverlets hadn’t even been turned down yet. We had just checked into the Mamounia having stepped off a Royal Air Maroc flight from Casablanca. We had come straight from the airport. It was now two o’clock in the afternoon and we had a rendezvous date with British Intelligence at eight tonight.

“We’re going to meet Major Alexander Hartley in a little cabaret near the Bab Debbagh. Don’t ask me why, but he’s going to make himself or his agent known by sticking a gun in your pretty white belly. I imagine it’s some sort of protective pattern he’s worked out.”

“Is it pretty, David?” I asked, peering down at myself.

“No tangents, Eve. This is serious.”

I snapped to attention, but I noticed he was still eyeing my female-female mounds in hypnotized fascination. I gave a little shimmy. My breasts swung lazily back and forth. David looked cross-eyed.

“British Intelligence is hot on the trail of something big in the Arab countries. So big it scares London and Washington and Moscow to hell and gone. That’s why we had to make such a hurried trip from Washington, pet. There’s no time to waste.”

“I’ll say,” I yelped, glancing down at the number two gun that was trained on me. “Time’s awasting, honey—so hurry up the lecture.”

“M.I. 5 wants to sell you to the Arabs as a white slave.”

What?

“Oh, you’ll enjoy yourself,” he muttered morosely. “It’ll just be a succession of slave sales and sex shows and assorted couplings for which you’re so famous.”

“David, you say the sweetest things.”

He jabbed my belly with the real gun. I doubled over and let my nipples brush the golden hairs on his chest. David began to quiver. David is a love, he responds so nicely to the slightest hint. I dropped my hand and grappled with him for his gun, I caught hold of it and squeezed. David gasped.

“Put away the revolver, dear,” I whispered, kissing his throat.

“I haven’t finished briefing you,” he protested.

“So you and the British are selling me into slavery. Okay, already. So now I know. What else do you have to say, darling?”

I snuggled closer. My nipples slid around in his chest-hairs. David dropped the Smith and Wesson 150, but even as my belly slapped against his, I felt his other gun ramming into my thigh. I moaned a little. I would capture his number two gun with my thighs. I opened them, I closed them. I had his second gun all to myself.

“Mmmmm?” I mmmmed. “What else, dear David?”

“You’re hell on bare feet, sweetie,” he panted.

“Actually, I’m Helen Bedd,” I giggled.

As for the business end of our little briefing—there isn’t much more to say, I suppose. The Major will want to tell you something.”

“Let his tongue do the talking, dear heart. Your tongue can do such nice other things.”

His hands spread on my bare back, ran down to cup my soft buttocks. He likes a girlish behind, does David. As a matter of strict fact, I can’t think of a part of the female anatomy he doesn’t like. I guess a psychologist would call him a fetishist for the female whole, no pun intended. Now his hands were sliding up my sides to my shaven armpits.

His hands surged into my armpits, lifting me.

My breasts came level with his mouth. His tongue flecked out at my standing nipples, caressing them lazily. I felt the reaction down in my toes, that began to wriggle. His lips opened to engulf a tip, then slid over onto the other.

“David? David, dear,” I murmured, shivering. David—dear said nothing, even if his lips and tongue were moving at a great rate. My breasts had grown hard as Carrerran marble, blue veins and all. My throat was dry and I guess my eyes were glassy.

“David, honey, we can play later. Right now!”

He lifted me four inches so he could kiss my quivering belly. At the same time he murmured, “If you’re going to be a white slave, the first thing you must learn is to be obedient. I’m not just doing this for the fun of it.” Oooooh, what a cock-eyed liar!!! “I’m doing it as a sort of—er—training routine. You know,” his tongue was touching my bellybutton now, “getting you ready for those naughty old Arabian sheikhs.”

“I’m kind of like a hidden weapon, you mean.”

“What a hidden weapon,” he breathed, nuzzling lower while lifting me higher. His lips touched tufts of blonde hair.

“David!”

“What, my love?”

“Isn’t this ti—tiring on your poor arms? Wouldn’t you be more com—comfortable on the be—be—bed?”

“You’re my slave, Eve.”

“Yes, David,” I murmured meekly.

Then I had my inspiration, I whispered, “Lift me away for a second. I just remembered something I read in an addenda to the great masterwork of the Sheikh Umar ibn Muhammad al—Nefwazi—the Perfumed Garden.”

His flushed face looked up at me. “Is it nice?”

“Yes, master. Real nice.”

The muscles bulged in his sun-bronzed arms as he held me at arm’s length. I lifted one leg and put it over his left shoulder. I slid my left thigh onto his right shoulder and caught the back of his head with my hands. I straightened up, sitting on him.

“You see? Now your arms don’t have to strain.”

It was difficult for David to say anything. Actually, I didn’t expect him to do much talking at this point in my training lesson. I clamped my legs around him, I damn near smothered him. My thighs were tightening and loosening and somebody named Eve was moaning all over the place.

My hips swung gently.

David walked around the room. My head was bent, both to avoid hitting the hotel room ceiling and in response to the lip service he was paying me. I shuddered and shivered.

My eyes were squeezed shut, my mouth was open a little.

Once I opened my eyes as we were moving past a large mirror. I could see that David had exchanged his gun for a much larger size. It looked deadly. The thought came to me that I might not be seeing David Anderjanian again for a long time. Maybe not ever again, if things went wrong behind the burnoose curtain. It made me all weepy and feminine.

“Let me really be your slave, David,” I sobbed.

He could scarcely hear me with the soft inner flesh of my thighs wrapped around his head, but the idea got through.

He walked to the bed, lowered my shoulders to the coverlets. I widened my thighs to free him. David gazed down at the moist vee those thighs formed, his hunger plain to read in his blue eyes.

“You just be your ever-loving self, honey,” he panted.

He fell on me, full length. I guess his gun was loaded and just had to start shooting. But David was never one for pulling a trigger. He squeezed it, slowly, slowly. And while he was squeezing the trigger so gently, he was lifting me into that Nirvana that the poets talk about, where everything was a unending eternity of erotic delight.

I wrapped myself around him, I played boa constrictor with a holster. I felt him glide back and forth, in and out, in the position which the Hindus named venuvidarita, with my left leg outstretched on the bed, the right raised to his shoulder.

The ancient Indians were very honest about the finer things in life. They made a study of them and left their acquired wisdom to the whole world. In the Kama Sutra, in the Ananga Ranga and other assorted books, the wise men of the East put down the rules and regulations of sexual play between a man and a woman.

I tried as best I could to remember those carnal commands. From the venuvidarita in which the woman lies on her back with thighs widespread, I slipped easily into the vyomapada-uttana-bandha, clasping both my legs under the knees and drawing them back as far as I could, while David, catching on, grabbed my breasts in his big fingers. We played at that for a time, because the pose enables the male member to sink deep within the yoni, and it was absolutely sensational.

We fell over into the karkata-tiryak-bandha, with both of us on our sides, David clasped between my legs. I was never one for these tiryak exercises, the man is always too much of a weight on the leg outstretched beneath him. So I slapped his behind with a palm, indicating I wanted him on his back.

David forgot I was the slave. He rolled over obediently. I went with him, never losing contact. Now David was on his back and I squatted over him. I understand that the man-below-the-woman posture is frowned upon by the Muslims. They regard it in utter dismay, believing that the male who indulges the woman this way is forever cursed. But the Hindus have a more realistic attitude toward this purushayitabandha position.

The woman can control the speed and tempo of the love act, poised upon her lover. Her body, being displayed to his gaze, adds to the pleasure of his senses. He watches her breasts sway and leap, as David was watching mine; his eyes delight themselves with the revolving bowl of her belly as it thrusts outward in a rounded dome or draws itself back to make a hollow below her ribs.

I slowed my movements. I sat quietly atop David while I said, “I may bring a special price in the slave markets, honey. I am what the Arabs call a ‘kabbarah’, which means a holder. Observe!”

My vaginae constrictor muscles were the only part of me that moved. I sat motionless otherwise, a faint smile on my lips. David was grunting, catching hold of the coverlets and squeezing them in his fingers as he fought the enjoyment which convulsed his big Viking body.

“Wha—what are you doing to me?” he growled.

“I am the Gopala-girl who milks the cow. Only I’m not using my fingers. Happy, lover?”

David was happy. Ecstatically so. I went on, “They pay big sums of money for a kabbazah. I’ll earn somebody an extra free. By the by, who gets the money for my sale?”

“It goes to ch—charity. Eve—cut it out!”

I relaxed and lay forward on him so that my breasts mashed against his chest. I slid my legs over his and hooked my feet around his calves.

“You’re going to miss me, David,” I whispered into his ear.

“Don’t I ever know it!”

Theoretically, this pose I now held, braced on my elbows on either side of David Anderjanian, is supposed to satisfy the female’s motherly instincts, perhaps because the man can suckle her breasts at the same time. I was feeling anything but motherly, however. My hips were rotating in a steady circle. I was getting to the point where I was going to slide over the edge of reality.

“Da—David,” I whimpered, my hips going mad. “Yeah,” he shouted, body arching.

I felt his hands on my upper arms, raising me. I was shaking so much I could never have made the move myself. David held me there while all the world blew up around us. I shuddered and screamed, David bellowed like the bull-man he was. It went on and on. . . . . .

We slept for a little while. It had been a long trip from Washington to Casablanca and then on to Marrakesh, and we were both exhausted. British Intelligence could wait. Besides, I was in no hurry to become a haremlik slavegirl.

At quarter to seven, David slapped my behind. “Up, love of my life. Arabia needs you.”

“Mmmm,” I dissented, pressing my tired flesh deeper into the coverlets. I could have slept forever. But L.U.S.T. needed my services. So I didn’t kick or scratch when David grabbed my ankles and yanked me off the bed.

“Serviceable clothes, pet. Something in a light wool,” David told me. He was half dressed, I saw, as he walked to his suitcase and fumbled around, lifting out a brown leather Dopp kit.

He brought out a charm bracelet that held half a dozen gold dangles. There was a beer barrel, a thick disc with a bull’s head on it (I was born in May, my symbol is the bull for Taurus), a world globe, and ink-pot and a fat round flask. David tossed it to me. I caught it, leaning across the bed.

“If you pulled all six of those dangles off the chains that hold them,” he announced with a grin, “you could blow this hotel and everybody in it sky-high.”

I damn near dropped the trinket.

Then David reached in the Dopp kit again and produced a ring. It was a heavyset thing, a massive initial ring, with the letter E carved in its top.

David put his fingers to the sides of the signet. “Press these—hard—and you can fire tiny darts. Each dart has a fast-acting poison smeared on it. There are six darts. Don’t waste ’em.”

I caught the ring very gently, slipped it on my finger. “That all, boss?”

“Now get dressed,” he chuckled. “Isn’t that armament enough?”

It would have to do. So I chose a pair of black bikini pants, wriggled my loins into them, and slithered into a brassiere cut low enough so that most of my girl-girl treasures could be seen nestling comfortably in the black lace D cups. I pattered on bare feet across the room, bent to lift my Cantrece stockings and then sat on the vanity bench to slide my legs into them.

In about ten minutes, I looked like an American tourist lady, complete with shoulder bag and camera. The big ring on my finger and the charm bracelet were a necessary part of the American woman traveler, in the eyes of the world at large.

“Do we eat diffa in the hotel? Or in the Medina?” David asked, slipping a tie tac into his Thai silk Tucker.

“My, my—we’ve been studying the travel booklets, haven’t we? Well, so have I, master. I know chopped grasshoppers happens to be an especial delicacy in the Medina so we’ll eat our diffa right here in the hotel. It’ll probably be my last good meal for a long time to come.”

The Medina, in case you haven’t been to Marrakesh lately, is the native quarter, Morocco’s answer to the more famous Casbah in Algiers. It is crowded with blue-robed Berbers down from the Atlas Mountains to the south, Shleuhs bestriding donkeys and fondling the long-shafted knives at their belts, merchants in their souks, snake charmers and belly dancers. I would see the Medina later, where Major Hartley of British Intelligence was to meet us.

I was going to eat my last (maybe) meal at a table with china and glassware and a silver service handy to my fingers. Besides, I was hungry. Chopped grasshoppers just wouldn’t fill the Drum stomach.

The Mamounia Hotel is the playground of the jet set in the winter months. It was the hangout of Sir Winston Churchill when that gentleman genius was vacationing. It is a most modern establishment, complete with swimming pool, and is considered the most famous hotel in all Morocco.

Its dining room is a marvel of carven white walls and slender pillars that blend with the boles of the black cypress trees visible through the glass doors at its far end. A maitre de seats you, then hovers over you as you make your selection of exotic foods like couscous or bstila, signals the wine steward with a snap of aristocratic fingers, and the waiters with an impatient gesture.

David decided, after a martini, that he was in the mood for lamb shush-kebab, while I settled for endives stuffed with beef and egg plant. We ordered a famous rosé wine, Gris de Boulaouane. We feasted on flaming crepes suzettes as a dessert.

Then we walked out into the warm evening as a cool wind blew over the Atlas Mountains and the massive walls of the old city to fan the streets of Marrakesh.

Marrakesh is a conglomerate of races and customs. The European quarter-el Guelez-borders upon the Medina, so it was reasonably close to our modern Mamounia Hotel.

We could have walked, but David insisted we take a carriage from among the many waiting along the Avenue de la Menara.

David selected an open carriage drawn by a lively gray mare. He handed me up, I settled myself on the sun-warmed leather cushions, and swayed as the carriage tilted to his weight. I stared up at the Bab Djedid gate, a horseshoe arch in the reddish walls surrounding the old quarter of the city, listening to the wailing cry of a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer.

Marrakesh is located on the Haouz Plain, close to the Atlas Mountains some miles to the south. Centuries ago, it was no more than a collection of tents along the caravan routes curving northward from the Sahara to the coast. This may explain why Marrakesh, of all the cities of Morocco, is closest to the Berbers of the desert and to Black Africa as well.

It is swept by the gibleh wind, that brings sand from the vast Sahara, and by the sirocco, which is a hot, dry wind scented with sandalwood and myrrh. From December to April it rarely rains in Marrakesh, and the temperature stays in the dry, high sixties.

If I didn’t have a job to do, I might have enjoyed myself even more. There was the cool night wind blowing down off the mountains and the clop-clop of the gray’s hooves like a melody in our ears as we moved along the Avenue des Ramparts. We were on our way to the Place Djemaa el Fna, which is the hub of the Medina, a spot where East can and does meet West. A snake charmer ran alongside the carriage for a hundred feet, hand out, calling to us in French that his snakes were the fiercest in captivity, but that they would be delighted to perform for us, at a price. A water-carrier, a youthful guerrab clad in picturesque hat covered with brocade and a brocaded jocket, sang his wares in a shrill voice, informing his world that the water in the fat goatskin he carried was pure as the dessert wind, cool as the waters of Paradise, sweet as the kiss of an houri.

David ate it up. If we hadn’t been on our way to meet the major, I’m sure he would have purchased half the things that were offered for sale in the souks that lined the big square. In ancient days the sultans of Morocco were wont to display the heads of their enemies impaled on long spears in the Place, which drew its name, the gathering place of the dead, from this gruesome fact.

At the edge of a narrow alleyway, the carriage driver drew rein. The streets of the old Medina were much too narrow for his vehicle. David paid him and helped me to the ground.

The women go veiled in the Marrakesh Medina, so my bare face drew stares from blue-burnoosed Berbers and turbaned tradesmen. The sight of a female bare face is not so unusual today as it was some years ago, because many Turks have adopted western ways and customs, and most of the Arab countries, since they accept American and English dollars and pounds for their oil, must necessarily absorb some western manners as well.

These alleyways are narrow, they are festooned with rugs and carpets, copper pots and pans hanging from pegs, strings of herbs, fruit and vegetables making a faint scent of spices in the air. Moreover, they comprise a labyrinth of streets and byways in which one can get lost with absolutely no trouble at all. Men jostle one another, men jostle the women at times, and my behind seemed made for little pats and fingerings. I was ready to lay a karate chop or a judo hold upon one of half a dozen natives before David pointed to the El Mohaffa tavern.

We heard the clack of castanets and the pipings of reed flutes as we slipped past the rickety wooden door and into a dimness where wine smells and the odor of stale smoke came to make us welcome. There were fifty, maybe sixty low tables in the common room, together with a cleared space in which a woman was dancing.

She was bundled up in something dark blue, and her black hair was worn long, and set with tiny silver bells. Neither David nor I paid much attention to her. At first, that is. A man in a fez and a jellaba came to bow us to a table near the dancing girl. He clapped his hands and a woman in soft, silent babouches brought a pot filled with mint tea and poured for us.

It is the polite custom to drink three cups of tea before departing a home or inn when in Morocco. I braced myself and sipped. To my surprise, the beverage was delightful. I sat back and looked around me.

The dancing girl was moving around the cleared space, hips swaying rhythmically to the piping of the flutes. She looked as if she were bundled up against a cold winter, but as she slid closer on bare feet that slapped the floor and slid lazily to her serpentine movements, I caught a glimpse of her body here and there through the thin stuff of her garment.

Lamps were hung on chains from the ceiling beams, lamps that smoked and added their own peculiar smell to that of the wine and tobacco. There were half a dozen brass lamps on the floor near the flutists. I noticed that a murmur went up from the men seated about the tables when the woman paused before these floor lamps and wriggled her belly at them.

A few moments later, I found out why.

The woman was naked beneath her dark blue garment. The blue robe was sheer, transparent, but her skin was so blue her flesh blended in with the dyed material that shrouded her from neck to ankles. These desert dwellers are known as the blue people because the dye with which they tint their jellabas and caftans runs off onto their skin, giving it its peculiar color.

With the lamps behind her, an onlooker could see her nakedness fully in silhouette, and as the eye became accustomed to what was beneath the sheer robe, you saw also that her large nipples had been tinted scarlet with henna. Her garment was slit in several places so that her slim, naked leg could be seen up as far as her groin. You caught a glimpse of shaking buttocks as she turned, and as she faced you, her belly revolved slowly, around and around, bare and warm and round.

She was dancing the sensuous guedra, her arms and hands taking as much a part in the rhythm as her naked feet and supple torso. The onlookers were clapping with more gusto as the woman whirled faster and faster.

Her long black hair was flying, the colored beads she wore about her neck standing straight out. She was a human top, twirling so swiftly that her loose robes began to rise and stand out like the beads. Soon the blue garment parted and flared out parallel to the floor, held only at the neck and her slim waist.

The woman was now stark naked, crying out with a soft, inviting voice. She was eternal femininity, her nudity was doing what it was supposed to do, arouse the concupiscence of the men who stared so hotly at her hairy loins and shapely legs, at her undulating belly and jouncing breasts.

A man cried out thickly in the dim room.

Somebody jammed a gun into my belly.

I gasped, staring down at the muzzle of the gun that was held against me. I had been so caught up in the guedra that I had forgotten where I was and why I was here.

A voice whispered, “Come, ma’amselle!” Partons!”

“What? Oh!”

I was sitting alone at the table. David Anderjanian was no longer beside me. I felt odd that he could have slipped away without my seeing him, but I guess the quedra dancer had held me mesmerized. I pushed back from the table, nodding.

I flashed one glance at the man with the gun pressed into my sides. He was a short, dark man in a white jellaba, a brocade cap on his head. He was no European, I took him for a native. There were a few tangled hairs along his chin and lower jaw, as if he were trying to grow a beard.

His eyes were black, intense.

His head moved. I slipped past him, moving easily, completely unconcerned. Several men were muttering angrily at the interruption. The dancer was reaching her climax on the cleared space that served as a stage. I threw a glance back over my shoulder.

She was rotating so swiftly you could see little of her body. Then she must have pulled a string, for the upper part of her robe went flying off to her left while the lower part tore free and rose through the air by the centrifugal force of her rotation, fluttering limply to the floor three feet away.

The woman stood nude, except for the silver bracelets on her arms and the belled anklets. Her breasts were rising and falling to her panted breathing, nipples a startling red against her blued flesh. Her belly was sucked in so as to emphasize the protrusion of the dark thatch of hair between her quivering thighs. She was sensual, she was female, she was eternal sex.

I thrust back the thin curtain with a hand and moved out into the street. It was very dark along these alleyways; the blackness was relieved only by an occasional oil lamp. The wind that had come up earlier off the Sahara to the south had gone now, and left a film of heat across the city.

The gun at my spine nudged me forward.

We walked about a hundred yards, then the man at my back said, “Arretez!” I stopped. His free hand went to a length of rope. Faintly, from behind a painted floor, I heard the chime of bells.

The door swung inward on a narrow corridor. A manservant was bowing, murmuring, “Please to enter, ma’amselle.” I pleased to enter, and moved along the corridor until a large room, well lighted by electric light bulbs, opened before me.

A man in his middle forties, clad in a white seersucker suit that could not disguise the fact that he had worn a military uniform most of his life, came to his feet at sight of me. His face was a nut-brown, his eyes a vivid blue.

“Bon soir, ma’amselle,” he smiled, gesturing at a chair. “No names are necessary, between us. Would you care for tea? Coffee? Something stronger? Like whiskey—scotch, to you, Yanks, that is.”

“Scotch,” I smiled. “On ice, if possible.”

Major Alexander Hartley inclined his head, speaking gibberish to the manservant who bowed his way out. Then the major turned and smiled at me.

“Miss Drum, do you know what you’re letting yourself in for?”

His face was kindly beneath the lines that told of long years of military discipline. His face was tanned the color of old leather, his eyes squinted as a matter of habit against suns long since forgotten. His mustache was a pale brown, as was his long uncut hair.

“I think so,” I answered lightly. “David Anderjanian mentioned that I was going to be sold into white slavery.” I hesitated, then added, “He was pulling my leg, wasn’t he?

“Pulling your leg? Ah! An Americanism. Well, not really, no. Interpol—the International Criminal Police Organization—assures us that slavery exists today in the Arab countries, and that each year thousands of Spanish, Italian and Greek girls are sold at the slave markets of Beirut and Aleppo to the sheikhs and rich merchants of the Near Eastern countries.

“Interpol works with more than sixty nations in Europe, Africa, North and South America. Its headquarters is on the rue Paul Vallery in Paris, where its official records are kept. The value of Interpol is that it bypasses diplomatic red tape—such as requesting an embassy in Brazil, for instance, to check the locality of a thief who fled from London, which would take months through routine channels—to enable the police of a nation to work closely with the police of any other nation.

“I explain Interpol because it is necessary to a complete understanding of the case in which you are to be sold into slavery.”

He smiled and reached for an English cigarette. He lighted it, drew in smoke, and let it escape slowly. His tanned hand made a slow gesture as he reached for the scotch set before him.

“As for slavery, be assured its exists. Quite often, under the guise of employment as a cabaret dancer or singer in Aleppo, a German or a French girl may be signed up for appearances in the Near East. If she has her union card, fine; if she does not, one is quickly issued to her. Once in Lebanon or Syria, she often drops out of sight, to reappear as part of some harem in Damascus or Baghdad. A more direct way is to keep a girl under observation to discover if a big fuss will be raised if she disappears. If it’s deemed safe enough, she is kidnapped—say, from Naples—and brought to Algiers or Tunis or Marraskesh.”

Major Hartley looked glum. “She is fed drugs to increase her sexuality. A succession of men are brought to her, to soften up her will and teach her certain sex positions which the western world regards as perverted, but which are very popular in the Arab countries.”

The major was flushing slightly. He cleared his throat, not looking at me. He said brusquely, “These are the normal ways of handling girls taken for slavery. And prostitution, of course.” He smiled faintly. “Working together, British Intelligence and Interpol has set up its own counter-slavery unit, which includes an agency that can smuggle slaves into Arab countries—as spies.

“You will be one of those slave-spies.” I nodded, then to ease the obvious embarrassment of the major, I said, “I’ve been around, major. I know which end is up. I’m not going into this caper wet behind the earlobes.”

He laughed gruffy. “Good! L.U.S.T. has picked well in you, Miss Drum. I have been assured that you can take care of yourself. Judo and all that, you know.”

When I had confirmed the report, he went on more slowly, “Believe me, we aren’t taking this step lightly. Only the most serious situation would make us sell a woman into white slavery. But we know almost positively that—

“Well, let me begin with Ahmed Asakir, a policeman of Yemen. One day a British patrol found him lying shot, beaten and senseless at the edge of a road. He was almost dead. Only prompt medical care saved his life. Asakir told a story of having overheard part of a plan to blow up the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building covered with a black cloth woven each year in Egypt. It’s the holiest object in the Arab world.”

I straightened. “There’s a meteorite inside it, isn’t there? A black stone which, according to tradition, was given to Abraham by the angel Gabriel? Pilgrims to Mecca kiss it as Christians kiss a crucifix?”

“That’s it. Notice that this isn’t an Israeli plot—but an Arab plan. Just as H.A.T.E.—the Humanitarian Alliance for Total Espionage—functions in Europe and D.R.A.G.O.N.—the Dedicated Red Army Guards of Nanking in the Far East, so A.L.L.A.H. works in the Arab world. A.L.L.A.H. stands for the Arab League of Loyal Agents of Hate.

“Now A.L.L.A.H. is very much frowned up by the governments of the Arab countries. The trouble is A.L.L.A.H. has begun a reign of terror, murdering men in high position so as to throw a pall of fear across its territories, as the Assassins did some centuries ago. Few Arab leaders want to come out against it, for fear of being assassinated.

“However, we have been assured—our governments, that is—that if we can expose and prevent this mad plan to blow up the Kaaba, the Arab countries will work hand in glove with us in smashing A.L.L.A.H. This is where you come in.”

The overhead electric light bulb flickered as an auxiliary motor fed juice to an electric fan. It was close in this back room, and two big ceiling fans began to rotate as the major pressed a switch. The fans only swished the warm air around, but it felt a little more comfortable.

“Our organization will transport you to Beirut. You will be sold in the slave market, but you will be bought by one of our Arab agents. He in turn will sell you to a man suspected of being a highly located A.L.L.A.H. agent. From then on, you’re on your own. If you can learn about the blow to destroy the Kaaba, you will contact us or Interpol or even the Arab police. They will try to prevent its happening.”

“Is that all?” I asked.

He smiled wryly. “It’s a large order, I know. We can’t send a man. The American government offered you, as a compliment to your fine work on a number of other occasions. You can always refuse.”

There was a wistfulness in his voice, as if he hoped I would not. I shook my head back and forth, slowly.

“Oh, I won’t refuse. The only thing is, why is this blowing up the Kaaba so important to the United States? And to England, naturally, as well?”

Major Hartley looked shocked. “You must be joking! I won’t go into the history of the Israeli and Arab relationship, other than to tell you that ever since the nation of Israel was founded in 1948 by mandate of the United Nations, the Arab world has done its best—and worst—to try and eradicate it. The war of ’56 and the recent six-day debacle for the Arabs is proof enough for that.

“Now what A.L.L.A.H. wants to do is cause a jihad—a holy war. The black stone of Mecca is the holiest object in the Arab world. If it should be bombed—I am sure some poor devil of an Israeli would be brainwashed into admitting the attempt—the entire Near East will rise up. A.L.L.A.H. means to drag Russia, the United States, and all of Europe into the conflict.

“Thus we have World War III.

“Is this reason enough for you, Miss Drum?”

It was indeed. I was familiar with the story of the ‘blintkreig’. Like the rest of the world, I had been awed by the swift military victory the Israelis had won. But now the vengeful Arabs—or a few of them, anyhow—wanted to drag the whole world into their feud, and by the destruction of the Kaaba, trigger of World War III.

“But would an Arab commit such a sacrilege?” I wondered.

“Where fanaticism is concerned, where hate of others masters love of God, anything can happen. Once before, the world teeter-tottered on the brink of a third world war because of religion. Back in 1964, when a hair of the Prophet Mohammad’s beard disappeared from a shrine, India and Pakistan came close to acting as the trigger set off that war. The Sepoy Mutiny in 1857 began because Brahman soldiers were issued bullets smeared with pig fat, which was anathema to them as good Hindus.

“The things that have been done in the name of religion! It makes a man sweat in fear, Miss Drum. As the whole western world sweats in fear that A.L.L.A.H. will succeed in its project.”

I tried to reassure him. “It won’t succeed—if I can help it.”

“Ah, but can you help it? One lone girl—against A.L.L. A.H.? We fight with slender weapons.”

“Is that a compliment, major?”

For the first time he looked at me as a woman, taking in as much as he could see of my body. He flushed a little, smiled and nodded.

“It is, Miss Drum. I hope you are as potent a spy as you are a woman.”

I rose to my feet. The major followed, coming around the edge of the desk. “I’ll walk with you a little way. Our organization is going to make the snatch, as you Yanks term a kidnapping, not far from here.”

I walked toward my future as a white slave.

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