Relatively Dangerous

Relatively Dangerous by Roderic Jeffries Read Free Book Online

Book: Relatively Dangerous by Roderic Jeffries Read Free Book Online
Authors: Roderic Jeffries
a tray in her hands. ‘Is the señorita not ready?’
    ‘She won’t be long.’
    ‘I will make some fresh coffee when she arrives.’
    ‘Don’t bother. She’ll have it as she finds it.’
    Rosa put the tray down and set everything out. Finally, she handed him a copy of the Majorca Daily Bulletin .
    He pulled off a piece of one of the ensaïmadas, buttered it, added jam, and ate. He read the headlines and leading article on the front page. More financial troubles back home, with the pound in retreat, the balance of payments adverse, and the gold and dollar reserves dropping. None of that affected him. He wasn’t a fool, so he’d moved all his money out of Britain. He turned the page. He skimmed through several small items of news, came to an article headed ‘Mystery victim identified’. The man killed in the crash on Wednesday afternoon was now known to have been Steven Thompson, an Englishman.
    As Pat, dressed in cotton frock because he didn’t like women dressed in jeans, stepped out on to the patio, she was shocked by his expression of fierce anger.
    David Swinnerton had been a highly emotional, very shy man, who’d suffered from asthma from the age of five. The asthma had so interrupted his education that by the time he was eighteen he had possessed no paper qualifications and lacking these it had been very difficult to find a job, even at a time of relatively full employment; in the end, he’d worked in a local estate agent. Being an honest man, he’d disliked the work and had been thankful when one of the partners had suggested that perhaps, in view of his frequent illness, it would be best if he sought a less stressful occupation. He had immediately agreed and left. Thereafter, he’d stayed at home, writing poetry and keeping his widowed mother company.
    His mother had died some years later, as the wind screamed up the valley and buffeted the slate-roofed house as if to demolish it into a funeral pyre. That night, he had written a memorial ode which for years afterwards had had the power to bring tears to his eyes.
    Despite the very high level of death duties, he’d still inherited enough from his mother not to need to have to work. Six months later, he’d married. His few friends and acquaintances had, among themselves, expressed considerable surprise that he should ever have contemplated such a step, especially with Valerie Pope. She had no claims to beauty, was completely careless about appearances, and had firm opinions on most things which she seldom hesitated to express. What all of them had failed to understand was that he needed support as well as love and she needed to support as well as to love.
    After several years of marriage, spent in the isolated farmhouse to the east of Snowdon, his asthma had suddenly worsened. He’d seen several specialists, the last of whom had put the situation very bluntly; if he wished to go on living, he must move to a better climate.
    He and Valerie had consulted maps and read books, then applied for an extra allowance of foreign currency on medical grounds—it was one of those periods when the British were being denied the liberty of spending their own money abroad —and when this was reluctantly granted, they’d set off for the Mediterranean coast of Spain, the south of France being too expensive.
    In Barcelona they’d met an Irishman—a bit of a rogue, but amusing—who’d told them that Nirvana was an island called Mallorca. They’d sailed there on the ferry. They’d arrived on an island which was not yet tainted by tourism, except in a few places, and where there was beauty around every corner. But not the solitude he needed. No matter how deserted a coast might appear to be, or how isolated a house among the almond trees, a closer examination would disclose other houses nearby and even a short acquaintance had shown that the Mallorquins were a gregarious people who believed everyone else to be the same. (Had he foreseen what would overtake so many

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