Tremor

Tremor by Winston Graham Page B

Book: Tremor by Winston Graham Read Free Book Online
Authors: Winston Graham
under the hat: he would have passed for a Moroccan. The inevitable damp cigarette end smouldered at the corner of his mouth, and the small suitcase was tucked under his arm.
    â€˜Never known it like this before. Least, not in February. I reckon it’s the Chergui.’
    â€˜The what?’
    â€˜The Chergui. Usually we get sea breezes here, but this is the hot wind from the Sahara. Phew! What time is it?’
    â€˜Ten thirty.’
    Frazier fiddled with his watch. ‘Always forget to change it.’
    â€˜You not swimming?’ Matthew asked.
    â€˜Maybe. Not yet, though. Waiting for my car. I ordered it while I was in Casablanca. Said nine thirty. But everything’s late now, since the French left. Slack, y’know. You mark my words. All these wonderful roads the French built: they’re all going to pot. Give ’em a few years to slip back. The Arabs are all the same.’
    â€˜Are you French?’ Matthew asked.
    Frazier looked at him sharply. ‘Why d’you ask?’
    â€˜I just thought you might be. I know enough French to know that you speak it without an English accent.’
    â€˜Ah, hum, yes, well.’ Frazier kicked at the sand. ‘Haven’t lived in France for donkey’s years.’ He looked at his watch to make sure he had got it right. ‘Wonder if those bastards have brought the car yet.’
    Frazier was off. As he moved away he said: ‘ I got some business this morning. Maybe I’ll swim this afternoon. See you.’
    After he had gone Matthew closed his eyes. The sultry day had given him a headache. He must have dozed off, because he opened his eyes and the sea was empty. He screwed up his eyes to look for a bobbing head: none there. He half started up in alarm, then saw the French girl had returned to her sunbed. She was just lying down and rubbing her legs with a sun cream.
    Being olive-skinned, Matthew browned easily without burning, and usually he didn’t bother with cream – it messed up one’s clothes – but this sun, though a bit hazy, might be fairly lethal.
    He dozed again – very strange to be so sleepy and lethargic. Must ring Edouard. Elevenish was a suitable time. He woke to see the stray yellow dog inching its way into the shadow of Mlle Deschamps’s umbrella. In spite of indolent attempts on her part to wave it away it crept, belly on sand, a little bit closer.
    Matthew got up, walked across to the other umbrella and tried to pick up the dog and carry it away. Not a success; the dog weighed a ton and soon wriggled away from him and squatted down a few yards off.
    â€˜Thank you,’ she said in English.
    â€˜Not a success, I’m afraid.’
    â€˜You should not have tried to pick him up. They seem gentle animals, but it is better to be careful.’
    He dusted his hands and made to scare the dog away. It shrank back another six feet, hesitated, looked at him with a bloodshot eye and loped off.
    â€˜It is not so much that I mind his company,’ she said, ‘ but I do not fancy the possibility of – of the morsure de puce .’
    Matthew smiled at her. She was sitting up clasping her knees.
    â€˜You knew I was English?’
    She nodded. ‘I supposed so. Though I heard you speak fluent French last night.’
    â€˜I spent two years in Paris.’
    â€˜Ah.’
    â€˜You are from Paris, mademoiselle?’
    â€˜Yes.’
    There was a pause.
    He said: ‘I am grateful to the dog.’
    â€˜Why?’
    â€˜Because I was trying to think of some excuse to come over and speak to you.’ He laughed infectiously.
    He could not see her eyes for the dark glasses, but the frank approach didn’t seem to have offended her.
    She said: ‘It is so hot. Usually there is a breeze from the sea.’
    â€˜My friend Frazier tells me this is from the Sahara. I’ve forgotten the name he gave it. He says it’s very unusual for this time of year … You

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