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Kathryn Blair - The Affair in Tangier

Kathryn Blair - The Affair in Tangier

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Published by: temari92 on Aug 04, 2011
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07/18/2013

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Kathryn Blair
THE AFFAIR INTANGIER 
MILLS & BOON LIMITED LONDON - TORONTOAll the characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of theAuthor, and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name ornames. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknownto the Author, and all the incidents are pure invention. The text of this publicationor any part thereof may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by anymeans, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, storage in aninformation retrieval system, or otherwise, without the writtenpermission of the publisher.First published 1962 This edition 1078 Philippine copyright 1978 Australiancopyright 1978 This edition © the estate of the late L. D. Warren1978For copyright reasons, this book may not be issued on ban or otherwise except inits original soft cover.ISBN O 263 72709 2Set in iopt. BaskervilleMade and Printed in Great Britain byC. Nicholls & Company Ltd The Philips Park Press, Manchester
CHAPTER I
 THE ship left Lisbon twelve hours late. Eleven of the ship's passengers knew why,but Tess Carlen was served dinner in her cabin and after it she slipped back intobed, read for a while and went to sleep. When she awoke next morning they wereat sea and quite some way out from the coast even though they were steamingsouth. Tess looked through the porthole at the heaving grey-blue Atlantic andthought how remarkable it was that one could travel so comfortably and be so wellcared for on a cargo vessel. They made up in the way of cuisine and service for thelack of a sun lounge and games deck. Tess liked to lounge in the warm southernsun, but she had no urge towards athletics. Her leg was still weak after eight daysout of plaster and her shoulder ached if she didn't rest a good deal. But she wasfeeling better inside herself every day, and the few weeks in Tangier would put herback where she had been before the accident, on top of the world.Wonderful of Clare to invite her. It had been so unexpected, after the year'ssilence. First of all the letter which had arrived during her first week in hospital. Aninvitation to spend her summer vacation in Tangier—a month at least if she couldmanage it. Tess had written back, telling Clare about the car crash and her ownmultiple injuries, and within days had come that remarkably solicitous letter and arenewed invitation. 'As soon as you can travel, darling, come and stay with me foras long as you can manage. I'll pay your fare—can't run to air travel, I'm afraid—but it won't cost you a penny from start to finish. Please let me know when youcan come.'
 
 Tess hadn't quite believed it, but what a difference even the hope of a long holidayhad made to those weeks she had languished in plaster. A holiday with Clare, of allpeople.5After her father's death, a little over a year ago, Tess had thought she would neversee her stepmother again. There hadn't been enmity between them, but neither had they been friends. Clarewas thirty-six now, fourteen years older than Tess. The distance between themhad not been quite enough, and in any case Clare's nature could never bematernal. She had married twice, the first time an immature young man who hadbored her and the second time James Carlen, who was much older but still notquite what Clare had wanted. During the past year Tess had wondered severaltimes how long that marriage would have lasted if her father hadn't died suddenlywhen it was three years old. Once or twice, when remembering his tired, good-humoured smile and feeling an ache of loss, she had reminded herself,consolingly, that at least he had had Clare right up to the end. He would neverknow that she had sold the house and was presumably squandering the proceedson high living on the Continent and elsewhere; or that Tess had had to find a roomand leave the library to take a job in the book department of a store that paidbetter.Had she misjudged Clare? It seemed so; the tone of both letters had beenaffectionate and full of goodwill. Clare was actually renting a little house, so shemust like Tangier and the people she knew there. Tess was looking forward tomeeting them herself. Eccentrics lived in those places, so she had been told, andsuch types were fascinating. Well, it was the ship's next port of call, the last for Tess.As usual, she had breakfast in her cabin and dressed after it. She was still too thin,she thought critically, surveying her figure in cream cotton with gay stripes aboutthe skirt. The smooth rounded cheeks had gone hollow and her collar-boneshowed, yet her appetite was pretty good. The doctor had said it was shock thathad thinned her down, that a gradual increase in exercise would help her fill out.She hoped he was right. She had always rather fancied herself as tall and serene-looking, but somehow she didn't even look tall, now. Elfin, rather, the dark brownhair with its wind-blown cut emphasising the effect. She looked closely into herhazel eyes. They hadn't changed, had they? How strange it was for Tess Carlen,who knew her book department from end to6end and handled the most difficult customers with poise and carefully acquiredcharm, to have become so uncertain of herself! She really did need a holiday. The steward knocked and came in for the tray. He also brought a message.'Captain would like to see you, miss. In his cabin, if you don't mind.''Now?''Yes, miss.''Only me, or other passengers, too?''Only you, I think. He said at your convenience within the next hour, but I'd gosoon if I was you. Old boy's worried.' 'What about?' 'This woman who's missing.She just scarpered in Lisbon—that was what made us late leaving. We're not a proper passenger boat, see—haven't got the set-up to deal with this kind of lark.''I seem awfully out of touch—been resting too much. I do know the otherpassengers, though. Which woman is missing?'
 
'The little dark quiet one, at the lower end of the dining table. Señorita Moreno, hername is.' Tess remembered her only vaguely. Thirtyish, mouse-like, no English.'She disappeared in Lisbon? Isn't she Spanish?'He nodded. 'She came aboard at Oporto, though. It's just a short hop from Oportoto Lisbon, so no one got to know her. The Captain was in touch with the police andwe waited till dawn. No sign of her, but the Portuguese police are going to cable if they learn anything.''Why should the Captain want to see me about it?''I reckon you'd better go and find out, miss. Need any help?' She smiled. 'No, we'renot pitching. Thanks for the offer.' In the rubber-floored corridor she could feel thebeat of theship's engine. She was a safe, steady little ship, but she had a positive, vehementchug. Tess stepped into the tiny foyer and out on deck, mounted the companionway to the bridge cabin and found the door latched open. The Captain was inside,but he got up and came to help her. Everyone on board did the same for Tess, yetshe was sure she didn't limp and quite certainly there was nothing pathetic abouther.7 The Captain was about fifty and bluff-looking. At themoment he also looked relieved and almost happy. 'Come in,come in,' he said cordially. 'Sit down, Miss Carien. Like afootrest?''I'm so spoiled on this ship that life is going to be hard when I leave it,' she said, asshe took the chair he indicated. 'The steward told me you wanted to see me. Is itsomething to do with the missing woman? I didn't know her any better than theothers did.''I'm glad to say that's cleared up. I've just had a radio message from Lisbon—seems that as soon as the woman knew we'd left she gave herself up. She wasbooked through to Tangier, of course. She jumped ship because she was the onlySpaniard on board and was frightened.''Frightened?''Never left home before.' He threw out a hand. 'You know the sort of thing. Anarrow life in Salamanca and suddenly she's forced to take this trip. Someone puther on board at Oporto, but once at sea she was lonely for her own people as wellas seasick.''I suppose it's understandable. What a pity none of us know Spanish; we mighthave reassured her. Wasn't she going to meet someone in Tangier?''Well, that's the reason I asked you to come and see me, Miss Carien.' He swivelledhis chair and looked directly across at her. "This Señorita Moreno was nurse to alittle boy—that's why we waited in Lisbon so long. He's half English, and she wastaking him to Tangier to his father, and was supposed to remain there as the boy'snurse for some time, till he's used to the place. The child is still on board.''Is he? I haven't seen a child.''She kept him in the cabin mostly, and left him in charge of the steward while shewent ashore at Lisbon. This radio message,' he half-turned and tapped a sheet of paper on the desk, 'asks that the little boy be taken to Tiran, which is a village afew miles from Tangier, and delivered to his father.''Surely the father will meet the ship?''That's what I thought, but it looks doubtful. It's possiblethe man doesn't know the child is on this particular ship. Miss Carlen, you're theonly passenger who is leaving us at Tangier, and I believe you're going to yourmother?'

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