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Chapter Four

The List


  Zet was closer to the door. He ran for it.

"I told a medjay the man they were chasing had mismatched sandals," he told Padus.
Throwing the curtain aside, Zet snatched them up. Barely had he done so when a medjay turned into the alley. Zet clutched them to his chest. The medjay glanced curiously at Zet.
"Good morning," the medjay said. His muscled shoulders shone with sweat.
"Good morning," Zet replied. "Just-er-getting my sandals here."
"Those look a little big for your feet, boy."
"Oh! Yes. Growing into them."
The medjay stopped and scanned Zet's face more closely. "Do I know you? You look familiar."
"Me?" Just his luck. That was the thing about working in the market. People sometimes recognized him. "I don't think so."
The man grunted. After a moment he said, "Have a nice day." And he kept going.
Zet let out a huge sigh of relief and slid back into the house.
"Just on time," he said, handing them to Padus. "But keep them inside until the real thieves are caught."
"I don't see how that will happen," Padus said, rubbing his neck.
"I'm going to solve this mystery, that's how," Zet said.
Padus shot him a typical adult look. One with doubt written all over it.
"I found you, didn't I?" Zet said. "I'm already ahead of the medjay."
"That's true."
Zet said his goodbyes and told them he'd return with any good news. He left, pondering all the things he'd learned. When he reached his market stall, Kat was nearly frantic.
"You've been gone forever!"
He pulled her back into the shadows. "You won't believe what I've learned."
Crouching behind the tall piles of stacked clay pots, he told Kat everything that had happened. Her look of terror when he told her about Padus yanking him through the door was definitely satisfying. She whacked him when she realized he was scaring her on purpose. When she knew everything, she sat back, looking thoughtful.
"Let's take stock of everything we know so far," she said, reaching for her brush and ink.
"Why? It's not like I'm going to forget."
She found a scrap of broken pottery and pulled out the cake of ink. "Because it might be helpful. Maybe we'll get more ideas." Kat mixed the ink with a little water and dipped the brush. "Go ahead, tell me what to put first."
Zet told her, and she began to write.
When she finished, the list looked like this:

Who:
Man #1 has a big belly and wears gold rings.
Man #2 is tall and thin. Looks like a boiled chicken.
Where:
Padus's Papyrus plot
What:
Large leather-wrapped scroll with building plans on it

Zet's heart leaped looking at the list. "We know a lot."
"A lot more than the medjay," Kat said. "Do you think he'll pay for this list?"
Zet considered it. "Possibly. But I told him I'd bring him the thief."
"Well, did you get any other ideas while I was writing?"
"Maybe we should write what to do next? How about, 'Look for the two men', and then, 'Figure out why building plans are important'."
Kat added them both. "That's a good question. How could building plans be so important? Is it for a new building, I wonder?"
They pondered this, both lost in their own thoughts.
Overhead, the sun god Ra was nearing the end of his daily voyage across the sky. Soon, he would reach the horizon. Sunlight slanted across the rooftops. It bounced off the copper plates in the market stall across the way. The stall-owner sang as he gathered them up and stacked them in two locked trunks for the night.
"We'd better pack up, too," Zet said.
They draped their pots up with linen cloths and tied the linen down. It wasn't the most secure way of closing shop, but they couldn't exactly carry everything home. And it's what their family had always done. So far, they'd been lucky. People respected the market at night, and medjay had a habit of crossing the square frequently, knowing it was full of goods.
The date-seller left just they did.
"Goodnight, Salatis," Zet called.
"Meddlesome boy," Salatis complained.
"Uh oh," Zet said to Kat. "I guess he's not too happy with me."
"He'll get over it, the old grump," Kat said.
He hoped Kat was right. He didn't like the idea of having an enemy, especially one in his market.
On their way home, Zet and Kat kept an eye out for the two men Padus had described. They passed dozens of people. A scribe with a sack of writing tools. A barber with a box of razors and shaving oils. A woman carrying a baby in one arm and leading a goat with the other.
But none of them matched the description Padus had given.

Come back next week to find out what happens in Chapter 5.
(Read Chapter One Here)
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