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Bagchee's eyes flicked up and down. "Did he? And exactly where is Miss Martens at this time?�

"Driving to Ladakh with Max. She gave me this for you." He produced the note.

Bagchee took the paper, but did not look at it. "Max is with Freya? Here, in India? You are quite certain of this?"

�Sure. He dropped me off at the plane."

Bagchee flapped the application form in his hand. "Achcha, and he is going to Ladakh, and Freya is going with him. This is most difficult. She was to come to Delhi."

"That's why she sent me," Trager said. "Freya said you would tell me everything I need to know."

Bagchee flapped the paper a few more times, and then read it closely in the bad light. He looked up carefully, as if really seeing Trager for the first time. "Achcha," he said quietly. �Then you must know, the trek is cancelled."

Trager immediately thought: Of course. How stupid of me. Nothing works right over here.

"You-understand, Max did not know this," Bagchee said.

"I guess not," said Trager. "But who cancelled the trek?"

"I did," said Bagchee. "Perhaps you should come in." He called instructions to his servant, and led the way through a living room full of wicker furniture. From the domestic look of the place--bookshelves full of English paperbacks, and a stack of what looked like folded laundry on a sideboard--Trager gathered that the H.O.T. office was actually Vasant Bagchee's house. Beyond the living room was a small study

Springtime in Kashmir ©Talbot Bielefeldt 2020.

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