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the accident, obviously, she did not want to frighten you off the job. Freya must have been quite frantic at the idea that Max would go to Ladakh by himself to see the authorities."

"Doesn't he know about the accident?"

"Of course he does. Why do you think he took it upon himself to actually visit the site of his business for the first time in six months? But you have talked with the man. Suppose you are administrator of the largest district in India, responsible forth security of one lakh--a hundred thousand--square kilometers. Not to mention borders disputed by both Pakistan and China. And now comes an American travel agent, and tells you, �Bullshit! Fuck your Restricted Area!� My only hope is that Freya will keep him from ruining us all."

"What about Lakpa?" Trager asked. "He's buying supplies in Srinagar right now."

"Lakpa is doing nothing of the kind. He may be ordering all manner of things, but he is expecting me to send money with Freya--or you, now--to actually buy them. But you see, this money does not exist. Max has not forwarded a penny, a paisa of the deposits the clients have presumably paid him. I have covered his debts from my own pocket in the past. And so has Freya--she has some source of money still in Canada, I think.

But Springtime in Kashmir is deficient some twenty-seven thousand rupees. Twenty-seven thousand! Even if you offered your good services gratis, and fed your clients on chapattis and tea, and made them carry their own baggage, you still would lack there sources to operate this trip."

"I don't even have the resources to take care of myself, �Trager said. "I was on my way home when Max and Freya found me, and it looks like I'm on my way home again."

"Quite," Bagchee said. "You have your reservation?"

Springtime in Kashmir ©Talbot Bielefeldt 2020.

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