stood at the long windows of his first floor suitein the Tor Court Hotel, staring out broodingly over the harbour. Inthe height of summer, the quay was a hive of activity, with fishingsmacks and pleasure boats and sailing craft all vying for space inthe crowded inner harbour. But in November most of the sailingboats were shrouded with tarpaulin, and although a few hardyyachtsmen braved the autumn gales, most of their owners hadpacked up and gone away for the winter.
Jake's mouth turned down at the corners. Who could blamethem? Torquay in November was no seething Mecca ofentertainment, and certainly had the choice been left to him, hewould not have chosen this hotel. Of course, he could have stayedat the Boscombe Court in Bournemouth, or the Helford Court inFalmouth, or even the Fistral Court in Newquay, but they were allpretty much the same at this time of the year. His own choiceveered more towards the Parkway Court in New York, or theBoulevard Court in Paris, and if he had to have sea air, then theCourt Mediterranee in Cannes or the Court Italia in Juan les Pinswas more to his taste.
But the choice had not been his. The specialist's advice had beenmore than eloquent. Indeed, his words had been more in thenature of a dictate than an opinion. Complete rest for at least sixmonths
no work, no travel, no business meetings, no hecticsocial gatherings, no alcohol
Maxwell Francis was a friend, of course, as well as a verysuccessful consultant to the rich and famous. He was used tohigh-powered business men, who lived on their nerves, and fedtheir ulcers with champagne and caviare. He was used to treatingheart complaints and nervous disorders, brought on by thepressure of living always one step ahead of the rest.
The bite of it all was, Jake had never expected to need him. Hehad always felt a certain amount of contempt for people whocracked up under the strain. And he had always enjoyed his life.The tensions he had suffered had been quickly dispersed by thenext obstacle in his path, and he had deliberately ignored thewarning signals his overtaxed body was giving him. The string ofCourt Hotels was growing every year, and their reputation forgood food and good service was the envy of his rivals in the field.His father's dream had been realised, and the national reputationCharles Courtenay had handed on had been expanded by his soninto an international one.
But owning hotels in all the major countries of the worldrequired an immense amount of travelling, of entertaining, ofsleeping on planes when he could no longer hold back theexhaustion that gripped him. He began to lose weight, he wasdrinking too much and eating too little, and inevitably the straintook its toll.
Even then he had fought against it. Sitting in business meetings,listening to his executives outlining their plans for the followingyear, he had suffered agonies over a loss of concentration, aninability to keep his mind on what was being discussed. Whereonce his head had been seething with ideas, every now and then acurious blankness invaded his brain, so that all he could hear wasthe pounding of his own heart, and the table in front of himducked and curved like a rolling ship at sea.