The Autobiography of The Queen

The Autobiography of The Queen by Emma Tennant

Book: The Autobiography of The Queen by Emma Tennant Read Free Book Online
Authors: Emma Tennant
and shipped by banana boat from Southampton, now slumped back, eyes closed, as if to show the extent of the disbelief already several times professed.
    â€˜You see,’ Lady Bostock pressed her point, ‘I was just passing the room and there was the white handbag on the bed and when I looked inside there were the – well they must be emeralds, Martyn, I ought to know when I see gems of that calibre.’
    â€˜And nothing else?’ asked Sir Martyn, his own tone now defensive and suspicious. ‘No money, no passport.’ Again he assured his wife he found this hard to believe.
    â€˜Who leaves their door open, Martyn, and goes out?’
    At this, there was another silence.
    â€˜Well, there may have been a few dollars,’ came the next response. ‘And yes. There was a passport. I handed it in to the concierge at reception. They looked up the owner, at my request, but there was no sign of her in the register. So I decided to wait, and restore the jewels myself. After all, you never can tell in these places who is working for the management and who is looking out for himself.’
    â€˜True,’ Sir Martyn conceded. Both he and his wife refrained from mentioning the probable fate ofthe dollars – and Sir Martyn had never been a man for noticing his wife’s new silk top or sequinned pants, even if these had not been worn before on the holiday.
    â€˜She was – she was an elderly lady, but the passport photo didn’t show her at all clearly,’ Lady Bostock said. ‘There was a photo slipped in, just a snap, I thought it rather sweet so I kept it.’ She pulled at the brown paper bag, and after a swirl of stones with their diamond surrounds fell into her lap, she foraged for the picture.
    â€˜Oh my God!’ cried both the Bostocks; and this time the gay couple in the grander villa up the hill came out on to the veranda and stood there like weathermen, keen to discover which way the wind was blowing. There had perhaps been a break-in at the cottage below, or a body had been found in the plunge pool – or, unlikely as it might seem in this day and age, the elderly Sir with the dog-faced wife might be homophobic. (But then, nothing about the Joli Estate seemed to belong to this day and age, being marooned in the fifties or even the thirties. You never can tell.)
    The photograph purloined by Lady Bostock from the unattended handbag showed a green sward, marked with small towels, and a pair of green wellies at the end of the row. Bounding into the frame was a small dog, the speed of its movement blurring its brown head and distinctive white markings.
    â€˜This is what we have to do,’ barked Sir Martyn, who had been known for his ruthless business methods and could asset strip as fast as any non-tax-paying City mogul.
    â€˜What can we do?’ wailed Lady Bostock. The couple on the veranda above exchanged embarrassed glances: were the occupants of the cottage celebrating – and finding difficulty therein – a second honeymoon? They retired into the safety of their self-contained suite.
    Sir Martyn placed the green stones back in the paper bag and had packed before his wife had even opened her suitcase. ‘Come now!’ thundered Sir Martyn Bostock, and for the first time in forty years of marriage, Marianne had no choice other than to obey.
    â€˜The airport,’ her husband’s stentorian tones rang out in the rained-over area just outside reception, where today only one run-down taxi awaited a fare. ‘Fifty dollars if you speed up,’ puffed Sir Martyn, dragging his wife in after him. And when the driver said in a slow drawl that fifty dollars was the price anyway, Marianne was able to witness for the first time in her life the acquiescence of a once-great businessman to an obviously bad deal.
    As the Bostocks and the emeralds in the brown paper bag jolted their way to Vieux Fort and Hewanorra Airport, Sir Martyn rehearsed his wife

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