A Treacherous Paradise

A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell

Book: A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Henning Mankell
Tags: Fiction, General
was tuning the keys at the bottom end of the bass register. The fact that he was carrying out the tuning gave her hope, unexpected strength. Nobody tunes a piano when somebody is dying, she thought. In those circumstances either everything is silent, or somebody plays something that soothes or consoles and then moves over into funeral music.
    She remembered vaguely something that had happened in Forsman’s house when the piano tuner was there and Forsman was sitting back in an armchair enjoying the sound of harmony being restored, and she had suddenly thought: what can he see? What can the blind man see that I can’t? She couldn’t believe that all he could see before him was blackness.
    Hanna could feel that she was tired. Felicia accompanied her back to her room. Somebody had changed the sheets while she’d been away. Her blood-stained underclothes had now been returned, washed clean.
    Felicia turned to her in the doorway.
    ‘What shall I tell Senhor Vaz?’ she asked.
    ‘That the white woman is still bleeding, not so much now, though. But she needs to be left alone for a few more days.’
    Felicia nodded.
    ‘I promise not to send Carlos to you with cups of tea. Laurinda will look after you.’
    When Felicia had left the room, Hanna burst into tears. She did so in silence. Not because she didn’t want anybody to hear her, but because she didn’t want to scare her body so much that it started bleeding again.

    THE WHORES TOLD lies. Just like all other black people.
    When Attimilio Vaz had introduced himself to Hanna, a week after she had taken up residence in his hotel and become sufficiently restored after her miscarriage to be able to leave her room without assistance and walk down to the ground floor for her meals, the first three sentences he spoke to her were:
    ‘Don’t believe what they say. It’s best to believe nothing at all. The only thing black people here know how to do is to tell lies.’
    Hanna found this perplexing. Felicia had explained what had happened to her and gone on to look after her – Hanna quite simply couldn’t understand the suggestion that she had been lying. To be sure, she had sometimes found it difficult to understand Felicia’s peculiar language – but not so much that she could possibly have totally misunderstood or misinterpreted what she’d said and accepted it as the truth when in fact it was all lies.
    The day Attimilio Vaz had decided to introduce himself to his hotel guest, he had spoken slowly and been careful not to use any unnecessarily difficult words.
    Senhor Vaz was born in Portugal, but at some point long ago in his life he had spent time in Sweden, after a short stay in a Danish town that might have been called Odense, he wasn’t sure. He had been selling Portuguese anchovies, but she got the impression that it hadn’t been quite straightforward. It hadn’t been his fault, of course. Attimilio Vaz considered himself to be an honest and upright person who unfortunately was often misunderstood. Even though he had been forced to leave Sweden in great haste after being accused of fraudulent dealing, he had memories of a delightful country and equally delightful people – and he was now pleased to welcome a Swedish guest into his simple but completely clean and above-board establishment.
    A few days later, when Hanna felt strong enough to go out for the first time since she had arrived, he invited her to dinner at a restaurant in the same street as O Paraiso.
    When she emerged into the street accompanied by her host, she suddenly felt the ground swaying under her feet. It was as if she were standing on the deck of the ship again. She stopped and leaned against the wall. Senhor Vaz was worried and asked if she wanted to go back to her room, but she shook her head. When he took hold of her arm she let him do so. No man had touched her since Lundmark’s death. Now she was walking around an African town and a strange man, a Portuguese brothel proprietor, was

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