Jeffrey Collins died from a bullet from his own gun. The bullet went up through his chin and into his brain. The last thing that went through his head, besides the bullet was, “A cat?”
The father caracal had come to the rescue. Just as the lion had spared Androcles, the caracal had saved Patrick and Julie. The moment his claws entered Collins’ left leg, the man let go of Julie.
The moment the bullet went into Collins’ head, Julie ran over to Patrick and the two embraced. They then looked at the father caracal, that smug cat look on his face. They both walked over to the caracal and gave him a pat on the head as if he were Quintus, Patrick’s parents’ cat. The caracal did not scratch or bite but purred as his species was the largest of the small cats and like all small cats he could purr. He accepted being patted just as his ancestors had by the Egyptians of yore when they had successfully taken down a bird.
What followed was Elvis being brought to the local police and Collins’ body being sent back to Britain. The local police were happy to Elvis but Collins’ body on the other hand, upon reaching Britain was denied the right to be buried by public officials due to a discovery that he had been harboring Indonesian spies and was perfectly willing to look the other way as long as they paid him.
Collins’ closest living relative, a maternal cousin, was perfectly willing to forget the debt that Julie’s father had owed Collins’. In fact, from what his maternal cousin had told Patrick, Julie and her father, Collins had been disowned nineteen years prior for some reason he didn’t go into detail about and they had never been very close.
“We were never very close. Why should I care Jeffrey is dead? He was a blackguard anyway. Let the rats in some mass grave have him. Oh, and young Mr. Malone, I’d steer clear of that Elvis Herbert fellow. His sounds as bonkers as a sparrow and as an ornithologist I can assure you, sparrows are indeed bonkers.”
As for the expedition, after all that happened on the first day everything was just the same old routine: Dig, dig and dig. That was really just it. Nothing amazing was found. Just the same old things that were usually found: some statues, some pottery and just about that was it.
“I always thought going on an expedition would be more exciting.” Said Patrick. “Aside from those few moments it was rather… normal.”
Enrico could only laugh. “Normal? Ha! Patrick, you can’t be telling me you believe in that curse of the Pharaohs nonsense?”
“Well, Akhenaten was Tutankhamen’s father and wouldn’t the city of a heretic king be cursed?”
Shrugging, Enrico picked up the piece of pottery he was looking at. “My dear nephew, there is no Curse of the Pharaohs, no living mummies except for your grandmother but we’ll let that pass—“
“What about that one tourist that was nearly scared to death when she was trapped all night in the tomb of Ramses the Great?” asked Patrick. “The next morning, guards found her lying at the foot of his statue and was so frightened she could not talk.”
“Probably just encountered a bat or a snake or a scorpion or a rat.” Dismissed Enrico. “Tombs are frequent lairs for those things.”
“Then how do you explain the Salawa?” asked Patrick. “A creature of Set or a modern version of Anubis, coming here to keep an eye on the city of the Heretic Pharaoh.”
“It is just a rabid dog bred with jackals…” Stated Enrico. “There is nothing magical about it.”
Julie could only watch her fiancé and his uncle. Yes, her fiancé and his uncle. Not her boyfriend and his uncle but fiancé and his uncle. Late into the expedition, Patrick proposed to her and she said: “Yes.” Now with a ring on her finger she only looked a little bit different, a little bit more beautiful.
“Professor Bulwer, were you ever at the Valley of the Kings?” she asked.
“When I was a young man.” Stated Enrico. “God, that was long ago. Tutankhamen’s tomb… It captures the imagination but when you see it you become disappointed… Now Hatshepsut’s tomb, there is a tomb of great majesty! Long before any Cleopatra a woman ruled Egypt.”
“I wonder what it would have been like to be present when Howard Carter found Tutankhamen’s tomb.” Wondered Patrick.
“It must have been so exciting!” added Julie.
“Maybe it was.” Commented Enrico. “Still when people hear about Tutankhamen, heads turn and everyone is listening. Of course, I must admit… finding a tomb of an unknown monarch would have been something…”
“Maybe next time, Uncle Enrico.” Said Patrick.
“I’ve been telling myself that for thirty years, Patrick. Sometimes I find it hard to believe.”
“You can’t give up hope!” exclaimed Julie.
“Maybe your fiancé my nephew will have a better chance than me, Julie.” Replied Enrico, his eyes staying on the piece of pottery. He had been in this profession for thirty years and seemed no closer to finding any tomb than he had as a young man. “Maybe I should just call an early retirement…”
“Uncle, you can’t be serious!”
“And why not?”
“You and my dad are my heroes at the Royal Ontario Museum! Are you seriously going to just give up because in thirty years you have not found a tomb! You are my hero and you taught me all I know about Egyptology! I want to be there when you find that tomb! You always support me when the other assistants ridicule me for my beliefs and now I am going to support you in finding this tomb even if it takes you another thirty years!”
“And I will be supporting you too!” added Julie. “You are a good man and a good uncle! You just can’t give up!”
Sighing, Enrico walked over to his bed and lied down. “I should have remained a minister.”
Enrico Bulwer would achieve such a dream eight years later in 1973 at the age of sixty-five. He had his nephew Patrick, his niece-in-law Julie and one more individual alongside him when he made his discovery. It was his final expedition before retirement and when he found the tomb of that unknown monarch, he wept tears of joy with a lifelong dream having finally been accomplished.
Patrick and Julie married on October 22nd, 1965. It was a small wedding with only family and some close friends invited. Enrico himself performed the marriage. It was a happy occasion, as weddings should be. There was dancing and laughing.
Homer Malone, Patrick’s father, gave a toast to the happy couple. “I thought I would have fewer pounds and more grey hairs by the time my son would marry. I love my son and I love the new daughter that has been brought to our family. I wish you the best. To Patrick and Julie!”
Not wanting to be outdone Julius Cartwright, Julie’s father, then gave his own toast. “I used to think I’d have my debtor, a man eight years younger than me, for a son-in-law. I never liked Jeffrey Collins and when I heard he was dead and that my debts were removed I celebrated by welcoming the best man my Julie could find. I hope you both have a long and happy marriage.”
A long and happy marriage… That was something that was certain. It would not be short and it would not be sad. It would be long and joyous as a marriage should be.
Most surprising of all was a gift from the museum’s curator. He who denied Patrick the right to assist his own father in the paleontology department due to perceiving it as favoritism had sent Patrick a wedding present! It was unbelievable. Even better it was the deed to a house and a letter saying: “An apartment is fine and all but this house will be better. I wish you two the best. Signed, Mr. McKay. P.S. Please take a long honeymoon, I will pay you to take a long one. If I keep having to glare at you I just might gouge my eyes out with a facecloth!”
A few months less of a year later, a son was born to Patrick and Julie: Patrick Malone IV. It was not a happy ending but a perfect beginning.
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