Monsieur Pamplemousse on Vacation

Monsieur Pamplemousse on Vacation by Michael Bond

Book: Monsieur Pamplemousse on Vacation by Michael Bond Read Free Book Online
Authors: Michael Bond
follow. Almost always it had been followed by an explosion. Once with particularly dire results.
    Already suffering pangs of remorse for leaving his master unattended in his hour of need, Pommes Frites decided he needed to take the object as far away as possible and bury it, preferably in sand. That was another thing he had learnt on his course. Sandbags had come in for a lot of use. And if sandbags were well thought of, then how much better must it be to bury a suspect object in somewhere like a beach?
    Destined to go unrecorded, Pommes Frites’ act of bravery was on a par with that of a Newfoundland dog named Gander VC, who was blown to pieces while removing a hand grenade which had been thrown at a group of wounded Canadian riflemen during the war with Japan. It was simply yet another case of a dog having to do what a dog had to do where the safety of its master was concerned.
    Silence followed his departure. The music mistress rose to her feet and Monsieur Pamplemousse did his best to follow suit.
    ‘You are all right, no?’ said the girl anxiously. ‘I thought for one moment …’
    ‘I think I shall live,’ said Monsieur Pamplemousse simply.
    ‘I hope so.’ She hesitated, suddenly shy as she caught him staring at the thin, rain-soaked dress clinging to her body. Then she looked up at the sky. ‘The storm has passed.’
    It was true. Already there were gaps in the clouds.
    ‘You are wet, Katya … You should have a hot bath as soon as possible.’
    ‘You know my name!’ For a moment she looked confused.
    ‘I looked it up in the programme yesterday evening.’
    She looked pleased. ‘You enjoyed the performance? You are wanting to come again?’
    Monsieur Pamplemousse shook his head and explained why he was there.
    No, there had been nothing for him and she was sure she would have known if there had been. She had been the last to leave that night.
    As they said goodbye it struck him that her handshake was full of unspoken thoughts, but that was probably wishful thinking on his part. Her mind was probably already on the evening’s performance. Wanting to catch up on lost rehearsal time.
    She hesitated. ‘Please to close your eyes.’
    He obeyed, and a moment later felt her dabbing at his mouth, then she placed something in his hand and gave it a squeeze.
    ‘Now you may open them.’
    Looking down, he found himself holding a tinywhite handkerchief, embroidered in one corner with red roses surrounding the letter K. It felt warm to the touch. It was also covered in lipstick.
    ‘Please to keep it. It is to bring you luck and to wish you safe keeping.’
    Half turning in order to undo a back pocket in his trousers, when Monsieur Pamplemousse looked up again she was gone.
    By the time he reached the shops the sun was shining. Steam was already rising from the road. In places the tarmac surface had completely dried out.
    Half expecting to find Pommes Frites waiting for him, he hesitated outside the photographic shop, wondering whether or not to risk leaving the film for processing.
    Catching sight of his reflection in the window, he decided against it. He looked a mess; jacket and trousers crumpled almost out of recognition, button-down shirt ripped apart, lipstick on what was left of the collar.
    Far better to send it off to Headquarters by the fastest possible means. Let Trigaux work his magic printing up the negatives. He, too, had entered the digital age, updating his darkroom with the latest high-tech equipment.
    Slinking into the hotel, he managed to escape the eyes of those on duty at the main desk who were busy with prenoon departures. Making a detour round the dinner gong, he avoided the lift, and mounted the stairs to his room two at a time.
    Hastily removing his damp clothes he dumped them in a pile on the floor, luxuriated for a few minutes under a warm shower, then donned a dressing gown while planning his next move.
    First things first. Having found a plastic laundry bag in the bathroom cupboard, he

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