> Oracle most wise and yet seemingly happy,
> What lies under The Sphinx?

Howling winds, sleet 'falling' horizontally, leaden skies. All in all, a
typical Spring day in London.

Gusts stirred leaves on the first floor landing, and whistled around the
door-snake Cassie had inexpertly applied to the office door. The door that
was emblazoned in gold:

              L     H
           E           I
        D                 C
           RESEARCH Inc.

The door suddenly slams open. Cold wet air swirls in, bringing the faintest
whiff of exotica - of remembered heat, strange spices and unusual animals.

"Shut the bluddy door - you were born in a barn, yeah?" comes the perfect
Sloane Ranger/Essex-speak from the girl at the desk, who is so achingly
pretty that she must be a cardboard cutout. Which she is, intellectually.
But she doesn't look up. The combined tasks of perusing Women's Weekly and
nail-buffing occupy her entire attention.

"Matter of fact, I was. But where I come from, we don't have barns, so it
was a shearing shed."

"Pythia! You're back!" squeals Cassie, dropping her buffstick and leaping
across the room to embrace Page Three's answer to Steve Irwin. "So did you
find out what is under the Sphinx?"

"Mrs Sphinx! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

"Thank you, Pythia. I'm sure our client was only too happy to pay an
additional 18 weeks of expenses for that little gem." At the cold tones,
the girls stopped their welcome.

"You think so, Sibyl? So he won't quibble about my cruise up the Nile

Sibyl gave a long suffering sigh. "As long as you're home safe and sound,
dear, that's the most important thing." Pythia almost cried as she saw the
real concern in Sibyl's wise old eyes - concern so often belied by the
harsh, crusty exterior that the older woman usually showed. Sibyl stepped
forward and gave Pythia a quick hug and Cassie a perfunctory pat on the

Dammit, thought Pythia. Old Sibyl really needs to go on one of those
courses we're always sending Cassie on. She needs to understand that a
woman doesn't have to be old-style strong and silent to beat men at their
own game any more.

Cassie yelped, "Ooh, Pythia! I believe you found a mummified mouse. Look how
carefully it's wrapped."

"Hmm, let me see. Ah, well, it's not quite a mummified mouse, Cassie..."

"But it is a 6,000 year old cat toy. See? *squeek-ee*squeek-ee*"