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Madalene Montana is a modern novelist with a big secret.  She can time travel.  This novel takes her from England to Colorado to Egypt and other locations, to meet Madame Blavatsky and Saint Germain while attempting to thwart the theft of her precious necklace, the Ankh of Thoth.



THE ANKH OF THOTH


By Dhyana Markley

Chapter One



Her landing was awkward.  She often stumbles slightly as she reaches her destinations.  'I've got to figure out how to do this more gracefully,' she thinks as she checks herself to make sure everything is all right.  Her hand sewn leather backpack is here.  That is important.  It has everything she usually needs in it.  She learned long ago that she not only needs a jacket sometimes, but also food, water and local money.  She notices that her necklace is on the outside of her jacket, 'Better tuck that away so it won't attract any unwanted attention.'

Madalene looks around.  No one seems to have noticed her arrival.  “This is good,” she mutters to herself, then takes off walking down the cobbled street toward what she hopes is the center of town.  The buildings are mostly red brick with beautiful solid wood doors.  Luckily there aren’t very many people around.  A horse and wagon passes, going toward a large stable that she guesses is north of her present position.  The driver didn’t even seem to notice her.  “Good!”

The warm August sun directly overhead has started to warm the day.  She won’t need a warmer jacket for several hours, maybe not at all.  If things go well she could be home for supper.  Madalene decides to put a little more energy into her steps to get her task done sooner.  ‘This will be good for me anyway.  I’ve needed more exercise.  This 30- year old body doesn’t recover from these excursions like it use to.’

A middle-aged man wearing a bowler hat passes her, going the opposite direction.  Once he is a distance away, Madalene thinks, ‘I didn’t think anyone wore those anymore!  Wait, what year is this?  I forgot to consider that before I left!  How could I have been so stupid?  If I can’t find a newspaper or something with today’s date soon, I’ll have to go back and start all over again!’

A young, rather handsome man her own age walking close by sees her talking to herself and moves to walk beside her.  “Are you all right, mum?  Is there some way I can be of service to you?”  He reaches out a hand and gently touches her on her forearm, abruptly getting her attention.

Startled for only a moment, Madalene responds, “Yes, maybe you can help.  For some reason I have completely forgotten what day it is…today’s date.  I went to a party and….” She didn’t want to continue her explanation.  The less information she had to give out, the better.

“I understand.  No need to explain.  Forgetfulness happens to all of us at one time or another.  Today is Wednesday the 23 of August.”

“Nineteen…?”

“Eighteen…(pregnant pause)...eighty-eight.”

“Yes, of course.  Eighteen not nineteen.  How silly of me.  Sometimes I swear there are days I think that I am getting as senile as my grandmother.  Do you happen to know the way to the London Times Newspaper building?”

The young man removes his bowler hat and holds it before him.  “Of course.  I was just going back in that direction after I pick up a suit at a tailor’s shop just around the corner.  If you don’t mind a short delay, I can direct you personally to their front steps.”

Madalene quickly considers her options.  If she were to go on alone she might get there more quickly, but then if she took a wrong turn, she might not.  “Why yes.  I would very much appreciate that.”

“Then if you will follow me, we can be on our way in just a few minutes.”  The young man bows his head slightly, “May I introduce myself?  I am Sir Godfrey Pendragon of the barrister firm of Barrington, Blakely and Pendragon.  Our offices are just a few doors down from the Times offices.”

“My name is Madalene Montana.  I have recently arrived from America, the state of Colorado.”

“Ah, I thought there was a bit of a continental flair to your clothing.  I am delighted to meet you.  Welcome to good ole England.”

“Thank you.  Is your tailor shop near?”

“Yes.  This way please."

Within moments they arrive at a small shop whose sign reads ‘HYDE PARK TAILORS - Makers of Fine Men’s Clothing - Established 1765’.  Sir Godfrey opens the narrow, black stained door with two slat windows vertically hung in the top half.  He holds it open with a gesture that bids Madalene to enter before him.

The inside of the store is only 10 to 12 feet wide and perhaps 15 feet deep.  There is a door in the far wall that appears to lead to a storeroom and work area in the back of the building.  All that can be seen in the front room is a desk, which looks more like a large oak podium than a desk, and three male mannequins, one of casual country attire, another very formal and the third a beautifully cut business suit appropriate for the 1880s.  On both sides, closer to the far wall, are dressing rooms whose entrances are covered by heavy, royal purple, velvet curtains.

As Madalene and Sir Godfrey enter, a genteel man in his mid-fifties, dressed in black trousers and a long sleeved white shirt with a black string tie at the neck, greets them.  The measuring tape draped around his neck almost slips off his shoulders as he conducts them in, waving a long piece of tailor’s chalk in his hand.  “Welcome.  Welcome Sir Pendragon.  We have your suit ready as promised.”  The tailor realizes he still has the chalk stick in his hand and hurriedly stuffs it into one of his pockets then wipes his hands on his shirt to remove all traces of chalk.  “Come.  Come.  I have your suit right here.”  He hurries toward one of the closest dressing rooms.  “Would you like to try it on to make sure we got all of the measurements correct?”

“No, that won’t be necessary.  You have always done an exceptional job on my suits.”

The tailor returns holding a beautifully tailored light gray suit of summer weight wool.  He holds it up for both to see.  “And fortunate it is that your measurements have not changed these past ten years.”

“Yes, I have fortunate genetics and a wife who carefully watches my diet.  Now, if you will total up my bill, I will pay you and then show this traveler from the Americas to the Times.  Oh, where are my manners?  I forgot to introduce you.  This is Miss Madalene Montana.  Miss Montana, this is Mr. Shipton, one of the finest tailors in all of England.”

“Ah, a visitor from across the pond!”  Mr. Shipton blushes a bit from the compliment.

“I am pleased to meet you, Mr. Shipton.”  Madalene offers her hand to the tailor who accepts it and kisses it on the back.

“Such a charming lady.”

“I heartedly agree.  Now, Mr. Shipton, so we do not delay the lady any longer, how much do I owe you?”

The tailor scurries to the desk, rifles among some papers and within a few minutes discretely presents Sir Godfrey with a bill.  Sir Godfrey pulls a small leather drawstring purse from an inside pocket of his suit’s jacket and proffers the tailor some coins of the realm.  The tailor completes the transaction then pulls a large piece of butcher’s paper from a large roll hidden behind the desk.  He carefully folds the trousers and jacket of the suit into squares, stacks them then wraps them in the butcher’s paper and ties the bundle with some twine.  When finished, the tailor hands Sir Godfrey a receipt, some smaller coins in change and the bundled suit.

He bows at the waist to both Sir Godfrey and Madalene,  “Thank you for honoring me with your business, Sir Pendragon, and to the beautiful American lady, I welcome you to our beautiful British Isles.  I hope your stay is a very pleasant one and that your husband and father will consider our little shop when next they find themselves in need of fine clothing.  We can make any style.  All we need is a drawing or a picture of what is desired.”

“I shall tell them,” Madalene responds with a knowing smile.  No need complicating things by letting anyone know she's traveling alone. “Thank you.”

Sir Godfrey nods his head to the tailor then opens the front door for Madalene to exit before him.  A few moments later they are once again walking along the sidewalk aside the main boulevard, heading toward the center of London.  The street is now busier than it was before.  Women are loudly hawking their home grown fruits, vegetables, eggs and milk from wagons they or one of their male family members pushed to a temporary location.  After selling all they can at one location, they will move down the street to another.

Deciding to make small talk so Sir Godfrey won’t ask her too many uncomfortable questions, Madalene breaks the silence marked only by their footsteps hitting the cobbles, “Mr. Shipton is a fine tailor.  I noticed that his shop is honored by the royal family.”

“How did you know that?”  Sir Godfrey asks, surprised.

“I noticed a small brass crown above the door knob just before you grabbed it, then inside there were royal purple curtains to the dressing rooms.  If I remember my history correctly, only shops with the royal seal of approval may display royal purple.”

“How observant you are and an informed history buff.  I am impressed!  I thought Americans had lost all interested in their stuffy old cousins across the pond.”

“I….” Madalene stutters a moment as she wonders just how much is safe to tell him.  She decides that a little information can’t hurt.  “I love history and love to write fiction novels, so I put them together and if I’m lucky I get a novel that has enough truth in it to be believable.”

“That’s fascinating!  Are you published?”

“Yes, but you probably wouldn’t have heard of them.  I don’t think they have been published over here yet.”

“What are some of your titles?  I will be on the look out for them.”  Sir Godfrey is being his most charming.  If he weren’t married one might think he was flirting.

Murder Most Deadly and Murder By The Numbers.  I’m sure you haven’t heard of them.”

“No, I haven’t but I will keep a watch in our book shops or library.  I love to read intelligent murder mysteries and you certainly seem intelligent to me.”

“Thank you.  My father likes to think so.  Are we far from the Times?”

“It is just up the block.  We are almost there.” He decides to press for more information.  “You mentioned your father.  Is there no husband?”

Embarrassed that she let that slip, she now feels that she must answer truthfully, “No husband.  I travel so much that there is little time to develop meaningful relationships and when I’m not researching I am usually writing.  As you know, that is a very solitary endeavor.”

 “Well, here we are, safe and sound.  This is the famous London Times Building.  I believe their Research Department can be found on the third floor.”  The two stop before a large building that appears to cover an entire city block.  It is made of huge brown stones and towers four stories tall.  The entrance is up several steps.  Massive double doors block the entrance, which sits recessed in an arched alcove.  Carved in a huge slab of wood above the doors are the words ‘LONDON TIMES’.

“Thank you so very much for your help.  I’m sure you saved me a lot of time.  I want to get my research done today so I can get back home.”

“Home, you are leaving for the Americas this evening?”

Embarrassed again at her slip, “Uh, no.  I meant the hotel I am staying in.”

“Which hotel is that?  Perhaps I can give you a call.”

“Oh!  I’m sorry.  I’d rather not.  You have been so helpful.  I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but…”

“I understand.  You heard me say I was married.  Please excuse me for embarrassing you.”  Sir Godfrey removes his bowler and with it bows to Madalene.  “I have enjoyed our brief excursion.  Perhaps we will meet again someday.”

“Perhaps we will.  Thank you again for being such a gentleman and so swiftly guiding me to my destination.”  With those words Madalene turns and hurries up the stairs to the doors of the Times.  Sir Godfrey takes one last wistful look at Madalene then turns and walks briskly away.

Madalene is rather surprised at the weight of the door as she pulls it open.  It is a massive door perfectly hung to swing easily.  ‘Nothing like good old fashioned craftsmanship,’ she thinks as she enters the building.  The steps of her shoes echo along the long hallway as they tap on the marble floor.  ‘Nice!  I was expecting hardwood floors in a newspaper office.  This is classy!’   Madalene’s attention is drawn to an Information Desk situated in the center of the hallway.  This is exactly what she needs, so she walks directly up to the slender, dark haired woman sitting there.  The woman puts down a small mirror and comb that she had been using to repair some fallen hairs from her bun and looks up as she hears Madalene’s approaching footsteps.  By the time Madalene arrives at the desk, the woman is looking at her.

“Good morning, Miss.  May I help you?”  Her body language displayed an eagerness to serve.

“Yes, Ma’am.  I am looking for your Research Department.”

“You will find that on the third floor.  Please take the stairs you will find immediately to the right of this main hallway.”

“Thank you, Ma’am,” Madalene smiles and waves her left hand ever so slightly as she hurries to the staircase.  It takes about a minute for her to reach the second floor, but about twice that to reach the third.  ‘Jees, I’m out of shape!’  By the time she approaches the Research Reference Desk she is puffing.  Another woman, a librarian type, sits thoroughly absorbed, looking through some books and listing titles, authors and a short synopsis of each on a ledger of sorts.  She is so wrapped up in her duties that Madalene is forced to wait.  Rather impatient, Madalene finally interrupts, “Excuse me Ma’am, I was wondering if you could help me.”

The woman seems surprised that someone is standing before her, “Huh?  Oh, why yes.  I believe I might be able to help you.”

“I am looking for some information on the Russian psychic, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.  Perhaps some articles by your newspaper or research papers by some of your staff writers.”

“Ah, yes.  You will find them in the ‘BIOGRAPHICALS’ section.  Everything is listed alphabetically.   You will find that section against the North wall over there.”  The woman pointed towards a section filled with bookcases and files with a large hardwood table and six chairs in front of them.

“Thank you.”  Madalene whispers as she leaves the area of the desk and heads for the bookcases and files.  ‘That was easy.  I thought someone might at least question my reason for being here or my credibility.  Hum.  This looks like a wonderful library.  I’ll need to take a photo when I leave so I can more easily return next time.’

For the next two hours Madalene searches for and finds several articles on Madame Blavatsky.  She quickly pencils important details on Blavatsky’s life in a small blank book that she always carries in her backpack.  ‘While I’m here I might as well research Queen Elizabeth and her court.  Never know when that information might come in handy.’  So for yet another hour she researches the Queen.

It is early afternoon when Madalene decides she is hungry and needs to eat something to keep up her energy.  Besides, this is a good time for a break in her research.  Her next stop is the London Library then home.  ‘A freshly baked kidney pie sounds like just the ticket!’ Her mouth is watering before she even gets her not-so-blank book packed away in her backpack.  She smiles one of her ‘I know something you don’t’ smiles and heads for the door.  She will ask both receptionists where she can find the best kidney pies in town.

Back on the main boulevard, Madalene searches both sides of the street for the café that both women had agreed was the best.  It is in the same direction as the London Library, so it won’t take her out of her way.  She pauses for a moment to make sure no one is watching her closely, and then reaches into a small pocket on one side of the backpack.  Pulling out some British pounds, quids and shillings, she quickly counts out several shillings, places them in her coat pocket then discretely returns the larger denominations to the backpack’s pocket.  ‘No need advertising to everyone how much money I have.’

A few minutes later Madalene is sitting in the sun at one of the linen covered wooden outdoor tables of the quaint Cock's Crow Inn and Pub.  She is halfway through her kidney pie, washing it down with some Earl Grey Tea when she notices a commotion in front of the doors at the top of the steps of the Times.  A short, angry woman is yelling at a middle-aged man.  Madalene grabs her backpack, throws some coins on the table and rushes back toward the London Times Building.

As the little woman storms down the steps, with the help of a sturdy cane, she turns and Madalene hears her say, “If you publish that article on me I will sue you for defamation of character!”

The man replies, just as angry in his own way, “You are a famous and influential person, Madame Blavatsky, but you are not as powerful as the London Times!”

“We shall see,” she retorts then waves to a waiting horse cab and continues to descend to the street.

Madalene pulls a small digital camera out of her backpack.  She aims it at Madame Blavatsky, now at the bottom of the stairs awaiting her carriage, and snaps a photo of the frustrated woman.  She quickly puts the camera away before anyone can see or comment on it.  Madame Blavatsky enters her carriage then signals the driver to move to their next destination.  Madalene watches a moment as they drive away, then hurriedly ascends the steps to follow the man back into the Times building.

Inside, the man is storming up the first flight of stairs as she enters.  Madalene follows him to the second floor, where he stomps into a private office marked EDITOR IN CHIEF.  She rushes up to his closing door and sticks her foot to block it before it can shut completely.  She then raps her knuckles on the frame of the door in a bid for admittance.

An angry voice greets her, “What do you want?”

“Excuse me, sir.  I’m a writer from America and I just witnessed your argument with Madame Blavatsky and was wondering if I might publish this information in America and perhaps save you from a law suit.”

“It would serve her right.  I do not respond well to threats!”

Madalene throws her backpack down into the nearest chair and pulls her notebook out.  She is still looking for a pencil when the editor interrupts her.

“Who are you?  Did you say you were a writer?  What newspaper are you with?

“My name is Madalene Montana and I’m a writer.  I sometimes write articles for the Denver Post but mostly I’m a novelist.  I came to England especially to research Madame Blavatsky and to meet her if I could.  What I’m really looking for is something to really spice up the bio I have on her.  Do you have anything like that?”

“I haven’t decided whether or not I will take the chance that she will sue but I would like to take that arrogant woman down a notch or two.”

“And what better way than to have your story about her spread all over the United States.  I will even share my bi-line with you if your article is accepted for publication.”

He pauses only a moment to consider.  It seems the words, ‘share my bi-line with you’ are magical words.

“If you add the words ‘London Times Editor In Chief next to my name and sign an agreement to that fact, you can copy the entire article and I’ll even give you copies of our research that covers all of the key points of the article.”

Madalene holds out her hand, “You’ve got a deal.”

The editor, whose name turns out to be Dudley Caldwell, takes her proffered hand and shakes it vigorously.  They have a deal.

A couple of hours later Madalene again exits those great doors.  Once on the street, she carefully removes her camera from her bag and takes a photo of the London Times Building and the Cock's Crow Inn and Pub just down the block. 
'I just might want to come back here sometime.'



*      *      *

For information about the purchase of a manuscript copy of this book, please contact Dhyana Markley at whitebuffaloenterprises@yahoo.com

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