The Queen's Envoy

The Queen’s Envoy.David Prosser

 

The Queen’s Envoy.

by Lord David Prosser

 

Thursday, January 17th 1991

What an excellent birthday. I have taken a few days off work to make this a long weekend. By 10.am I had followed Ysabel round the house and the local streets carefully removing all signs that say ’40 TODAY’, as I think I can manage without the advertising. At 14 I don’t think she understands the full meaning of discretion.

We had an excellent lunch at The Flying Pig, and I even indulged in a pint of bitter. Needless to say, I wore my birthday gifts for the occasion.
From Ysabel, fluorescent orange socks with ‘Who’s the Daddy?’ written on them, and a heavily flowered shirt in turquoise designed to make me ‘cool’.
From Julia a pair of jeans indicative of her urge to bring me into the twenty-first century. Also, a new waistcoat which is reminiscent of our old brocade curtains but which she knows I love.

We got home at about 4.oo pm just in time to catch the phone ringing. It was my solicitors secretary asking if we would be available to call in at twelve o’clock tomorrow. I’m off work with no set plans so I agree.
Recently I had learned that my father’s, mother’s, brother’s son whom I can’t decide is my second cousin or my first cousin once removed, is ill and close to the end. His name is Enoch ( pronounced e-noch rather than Ee-noch as some say) and I’ve never met him but it’s likely I will be asked to make his funeral arrangements.

The rest of today was quiet, interrupted only by people phoning with birthday wishes and the usual jokes about my life going downhill from here on in. An episode from ‘Never mind the Buzzcocks’ and I was ready for bed, that is, once I could persuade the damn cat to unoccupy it first.

Friday January 18th.

Julia drove me into Barchester and we arrived at Mr.Figg-Newton’s at 12.00 prompt. He was waiting for us in the reception and ushered us into his room. I was fully expecting to hear about the death of my…..relative, but was surprised when he said,
“Well Mr.Prosser, what are we to do? It seems your little bump in the car last week was with the wife of a Councillor of Praisewater close to where you live. She’s suggesting the damage was quite severe and is considering court action. What would you like me to do?”

I saw Julia’s expression which looked explosive so I quickly responded to the question.
“Mr Figg-Newton” said I. “I want you to accept that my wife was not responsible for the accident. We were both in the car when it happened, and not only was our car not moving, it was actually in a parking bay at the local supermarket. I should point out that this idiot woman actually caught our rear light but all she sustained was a small scratch along the side of her car.”

“I see” said Mr. Figg-Newton, “ So her claim that her front light and bumper were damaged is untrue?”
“Indeed” I said, “ She cornered sharply in the car park, hit our rear light with the passenger side of her car and ran on a few feet leaving scratches. I have no doubt that she’s had another accident since then and is hoping to find an idiot to pay for it all.”
“ I shall look into this further “ said Mr.Figg-Newton showing us to the door, “ I shall be in touch anon.”

Julia was seething somewhere just South of the Boiling Point. It wouldn’t take much for her to drive into Praisewater and seek out the Councillor and his devious wife. I distracted her with the thought of some new shoes and more so with a new bridle for the horse.
At 3.00pm we were home again. Though we hadn’t stopped on the journey I’d noticed her glance at the Praisewater Council offices as we passed through.
I settled on the couch for a while with a coffee, Oscar having appropriated my chair, or, what he actually considers to be one of his. I was glancing through the local paper while Julia adjusted the bridle and Ysabel, now home from School, taught Joey the budgie how to drink from her cola tin in order to watch him with the hiccups.

At 4.00pm the phone rang. Again it was Mr. Figg-Newton’s secretary asking me to call again tomorrow at 12.00. I was surprised to find him working on a Saturday but I agreed to go.
After dinner we had a game of Trivia which I won having a good memory for such fluff. I refused to play Monopoly on the grounds I never win and always end up declaring myself bankrupt after about twenty minutes while everyone else has multi storey hotels on their Water Works just waiting to catch me. And I swear my criminal record must be second to none the amount of time I Go Directly to Jail.

Saturday 19th January.

I attended Mr. Figg-Newton at 12.00 fully expecting him to require a written statement about the accident. He’d surprised me by asking to see me alone and so I’d passed my wallet to Julia , feeling it’s fear as I passed it over, and told her to go round a shop she liked and I’d catch her up. Hopefully before my wallet expired from lack of funds.

Mr. Figg-Newton ushered me into his office with a “Please enter and sit sir.” which I found strangely formal. I did so.
“You are aware that your relative has been ill” he said. I nodded agreement. “It is my duty to inform you he passed away My Lord.”
“My Lord? Mr.Figg-Newton, what do you mean?”
He told me my cousin had been Lord of the Manor of Bouldnor, and, as the eldest male and because there was no named successor, the Title now fell to me. Though it did not make me a Peer of the Realm, and did not come with an estate, I retained the rare privilege of being able to grant a market should I so wish. At that I think I felt a little underwhelmed. He did remind me that the bearing of a title carried certain duties which I had given no thought to, and I developed a feeling of responsibility. I received a document from him verifying the transfer of the Title and made to leave.
He stopped me with a gesture, “ By the way”, he said, “ I almost forgot. I phoned the other driver this morning. I accidentally referred to you as Lord Prosser before I’d told you, and she suddenly decided to take no further action. Said she’d pay for the repairs herself. Edna something or other, strange woman. A good news day all round for you.”

I met Julia at her store and we headed for the coffee bar. I was pleased to see not too many bags and my wallet breathed a sigh of delight as it was passed back. I sat her down and went to order two lattes. By the time the young lady on the counter had run the verbal gamut of all the choices I had with and without syrups, I’d almost changed my mind. Eventually I ordered two plain lattes. I returned to the table and sat down.
“ Right My Lady”I said to Julia, “your latte is on it’s way.”
She looked at me a little oddly.
“ Lady Julia Prosser of Bouldnor, may I introduce myself? Lord David Prosser of Bouldnor, delighted to make your acquaintance.”
By now I could see she was considering her next purchase should be a strait jacket pour moi, so I gave her the news. Ever the pragmatist, all she replied was,
“Well, we’ve not lived in the village very long. The locals will adjust.”

We did in fact only move in a month ago to be closer to my job in Local Government as the daily travelling was getting to be to much. It occurred to me then to wonder how my employer and colleagues would react when I passed on my news. I guess they’ll react quite well if I keep the cheering down as I hand in my notice.
Julia and I,(Ysabel having gone to a friends for the night) decided to celebrate with a visit to the local pub. Lady J as I now called her had a red wine and I had a half pint of the local brew which is guaranteed to have you on your knees doing Toulouse Lautrec impressions after two glasses.
Smiley Jackson, the landlord of the Fursty Ferret brought the drinks to the table.
“On the house My Lord.” he said.
(Twenty years later and I still don’t know how he knew).

After two glasses of wine and three halves of local brew Lady J took me home. Somehow I seem to have learned a new song about a Madamoiselle from Armentiers?

Sunday 20th.January

Lady J was busy phoning round to let the family know what had happened. My nieces were delighted, especially when she explained I was still Uncle David to them. Her sister Mumu is married to Baron Caslav, and while he is delighted at the news, she seems less so. This is not unusual as they are very competitive girls. There is no doubting they love each other dearly and if either was in trouble the other would be there, but the rest of the time, sight or sound of each other could make a persons hair stand on end. There are barbs in every sentence they speak to each other, just waiting to entangle any fool stupid enough to try and intervene. I remember Mumu saying “ Oh how nice Dahling, now you can join the upper echelons of society.”
Julia later translated this for me to mean “at least you won’t be peasants anymore.”

We ate at home today as I had a slight headache which I put down to the shock of the last day or so. I spent much of the day lying down and contemplating my future. Julia spent much of the day on the various phone calls and Ysabel taught Joey how to play football with an old ping pong ball.

Monday 21st January.

I took Lady J her bucket of coffee quite early this morning in case she was going to the stables. Oscar decided to say he loved me by entwining himself around my ankles on my way out of the bedroom. Down I went.
My head now on a level with his, I received a head butt and a miaow loud enough to remind me I hadn’t fed him. That’s what I love about Oscar , his subtlety.
I had a shower after feeding the cat and though I knew it wasn’t yet eight I heard Lady J take a phone call. As I came out to get dressed she told me she’d received an odd call from a man asking that I make sure I was available and at home at 9.00 this morning.
As Julia went off to see to her horse I settled with a coffee to wait. At 9.00 promptly there was a knock at the door. I answered it to find on my doorstep a gentleman dressed in a smart pinstripe suit.
“Good Morning My Lord,” he said, “ I am Bertram Threadneedle, and I would b most grateful fr a few minutes of your time.”
I invited him in and waved him through to the lounge where I just knew that wherever he sat it would leave his suit covered in grey hair from Oscar as all seats were of course his. He declined a coffee so I sat down to finish mine while he talked.
“ How can I help you Mr.Threadneedle,” I asked.
“ Actually it’s Sir Bertram ,” he said “ and I’m here on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government. I don’t know if you’re aware, but your cousin Lord Roberts of Bouldnor did, on occasion, do some small errands on behalf of Her Majesty in a diplomatic fashion where the Government could not act directly. He was sort of a Roving Diplomat.”
“I was not aware of this, but pray continue” I said.
“Thee was a delicate task your late cousin had agreed to help with that we hope you might undertake for us as his successor.”
“Of course,” I replied, “If there’s a way in which I might help, please don’t hesitate to tell me.”
“Marvellous,”he responded, “ Then if your passport is up to date I shall have a case file and some travel documents sent over.”
Passport ? Travel documents? What did he mean?
Leaving me a little dazed, Sir Bertram got up, shook my had and left. I was on the doorstep watching him get into a chauffeured Rolls Royce before I came out of the daze, too late to ask questions.
When Julia returned later I tried to explain what had happened but as laconic as ever all I got from her was, “ You have your duty David, I’m sure you’ll do it well,”

Wednesday 23rd Jan.

This morning the Rolls Royce returned with a file of photographs and documents plus an itinerary and tickets for travel. They even included a wad of money in English money and Beritana Dinars. The photographs confirmed that Beritana was my destination and showed me pictures of a Palace and of various people there. I viewed them all and then tested myself on them. Quite good really, I remembered one name in three and even attached it to the right person sometimes.
The documents told me that there had been a new oil find there and the UK was anxious to have it. It would have been my late cousins job to persuade the Sultan to let us buy it. It seemed my late cousin was quite important and I’m a little flummoxed that they’ve asked me to take his place. I read that Sultan Ibrahim has a British wife and a young daughter and that he was educated in England.

Lady J came back from the stables and we decided to eat out at Cass E Dees, a local cafe. I know we ate, but the problem on my mind of how to succeed in this mission made me forget what. I do remember at some stage Lady J saying “ Don’t be so silly David, of course you can do it.” before the subject was officially dropped.
At home again Sir Bertram arrived and I was fully expecting him to apologise and say there had been a mistake and a more suitable candidate had been found. Instead he was short, sharp and to the point.
“You leave on Friday My Lord, Good luck in your endeavours” he said.
After he left I set Julia and Ysabel the task of sorting me out a suitcase and packing the right clothes. I asked them to let me know If I needed anything. I just sat there in shock.

Friday 25th January.

Lady J dropped me at the airport at 7.45am. All would have been OK if I hadn’t noticed that I’d forgotten my passport. I phoned home and asked Ysabel to call a taxi and have it delivered to me s quickly as possible. I don’t want her to lie to Julia but I do hope she forgets to mention it to her, either that or Julia suffers amnesia before I get back.
Anyway, the taxi arrived complete with passport with half an hour to spare. Then, because I’d explained the problem to the cabin crew they’d agreed to bend the rules for me, Lord David. But, I hadn’t had time to change my passport and was expecting to be summarily ejected. Luckily for me Ysabel had placed the solicitors letter inside so that I could verify I was who I said.
I settled into me seat and awaited take off. I was still very nervous about the who journey and the thought of letting my Country down. The stewardess didn’t make me feel any better when she started waving her arms like a windmill and talking about emergency chutes, and worse still, sick-bags. I asked for a drink.

The journey to Saudi took forever. This was mainly due to the fact that I was sitting next to a sweet old lady ( From Hell) who insisted I share her joy by showing me photographs of her grandchildren. Every pocket in her coat and her hand luggage was full of pictures. I was able to follow each child from meal to meal, from going to bed to getting up, from school gate going in to school gate coming out again. The pictures alone must have covered her entire baggage allowance. I know the children’s ages, shoe sizes and favourite meals.
After what seemed like two years the plane finally landed and I was able to say goodbye to grandma. I disembarked, entered the airport terminal and found my suitcase on the carousel. I walked over to the customs desk.
“You bring alcohol?” asked the officer.
“No” I replied.
“You have dirty pictures?” he asked.
“No,” I replied.
“You go,” he said looking sad.
I felt almost guilty at disappointing him.
Out on the concourse I looked for someone who was meeting me. I saw people carrying signs for ‘Herren Baumfart und Schwartz’, ‘Ivana Gohome’, Lord Daud,’ ‘Smith and Jones’……. just a minute, Lord Daud? Could that be me?
I approached the chap holding the sign and expecting the same lack of English I’d experienced with customs officers and their learned lines, said
“ Me Daud. Go Beritana yes?”
“Ah wonderful,” came the response, “ Allow me to introduce myself old chap. Mustapha Phag at your service. I’m the Sultan’s factotem and will drive you to Beritana and the palace.”
Dumbfounded and not a little embarrassed I offered my hand.
“Delighted to meet you,” I stuttered.
He escorted me to a vintage Rolls Royce and our journey started.
“There will be only one other guest,” he told me, “ That’s a Russian envoy called Mikhail Gottakov. Pleasant chappie.”
Mustapha pointed out various sites on our three hour drive to the border, they were few and far between as it was mostly desert. To be honest, most of the sites he pointed out seemed to be desert as well to me.
At the border the car was waved through, and after that it was less than an hour to Beritana’s capital, Beritana City and to the palace.
The Palace itself was a magnificent edifice standing as it does on a small hill at the centre of the city with all other buildings radiating out from it.
Built of what looked like pink blocks of stone, it was lit up by floodlights from below and seemed to shine. If it was intended to impress it did it’s job.
Servants dashed to the car as we drew up. They seemed to squabble over my single suitcase. I was shown to my rooms by Mustapha who informed me he’d see me later at dinner which would be at eight and would be very informal. As it was by then almost six o’clock I decided to relax on the bed for a while. I must have dozed off because the next thing I knew there was a man shaking me and asking if I wished to shower before dinner. I did so and was escorted downstairs to eat wearing an informal cream linen suit which appeared to have been freshly ironed.
Sultan Ibrahim himself greeted me in what I assumed was the dining room.
“Come in old chap and make yourself comfortable” he said , indicating a variety of cushions at floor level by very low tables.
“Thank you Your Highness,” I replied.
“ No, No Dear Bouldnor” he said, “ Call me Ibrahim, and allow me to present my wife Jenny.”He indicated towards a slim, pretty, blonde woman of about his age which I remembered reading was thirty.
“Enchanted Your Highn..er Jenny,” I said.
“I’m pleased to meet you too Lord David,”she said, “ So nice to meet someone from home.”
Though amongst all the Etonian accents I’d been hearing I was surprised she ever got the chance to miss England at all.

Over dinner, which was lamb with rice, I was also introduced to Gottakov, saw Mustapha again and met a few of the Sultans dignitaries.
Gottakov was a short man who had adopted the wearing of a pince-nez, and while pleasant to speak to did appear a rather picky and pedantic man.
After the meal everyone chatted generally. It really was a very informal affair. Ibrahim asked Gottakov and myself if we had considered wearing the typical Bedouin robes for comfort in the heat to which I replied had I been able to get some in the UK I would have been delighted to adopt for my trip. Gottakov said he preferred his suits.
Soon after we all retired for the night, Ibrahim saying he would see us tomorrow.

Sat 26th January

I woke quite early this morning. After stepping into the shower I heard someone enter my room. I washed quickly and stepped out to find Mustapha sitting on my bed.
“ Morning Old man,” he said “ Ibrahim sends you his greetings and a gift. Some Bedou robes for you to try.”
“I’m overwhelmed at His Highness’s kindness,” I replied. “I’ll be happy to try them if you can give me a moment to dress.”
“His Highness hopes you will join him on the battlements before breaking your fast David.” he said.
I dressed quickly finding the robes most comfortable then Mustapha led the way to the battlements.
“Ibrahim is hawking “ he told me.
“ Oh Dear, I do hope he’s not ill,” I replied, misunderstanding.
Mustapha seemed to find this hilarious. “ No, no Old Chap, I mean he’s flying his hawk.”
And indeed he was. It was a magnificent bird. I say it swooping in the air as I approached and then return to it’s master’s gloved hand.
“Good morning Daud,” said Ibrahim adopting the Arabic equivalent of my name, “ A most beautiful day don’t you think?”
I agreed and told Ibrahim how much I admired his skill with the hawk.
“It’s a Marsh Harrier “ he told me, “ and coming along nicely in training.”
He called to an elderly man to come and take the bird. The man came and transferred the bird to his own hand gripping the jess tightly, put a hood on the bird and then took it back to the mews where it was kept.
“Come” said Ibrahim “ Lets break fast together.” Mustapha and I followed him in.
This morning the table was laden with fruit. With just the three of us there Ibrahim asked me what I thought of his country. I told him that what I had seen of it looked wonderful. He told me that he wanted to do great things with his people and intended to start with education. I said I thought that was the way forward for all people.
At that moment Gottakov came in and wished us all good morning. He sat and joined us as we wished him the best of the day.
No sooner had he started to eat than a young child, probably about four years of age, came in. Without a word she rushed over to Gottakov and plumped herself in his lap. She plumped, he jumped.
“Go away child” he said, “ Have you no manners?”
I saw a smile play about Ibrahim’s lips as the child got up from where Gottakov had ceremoniously dumped her when he jumped.
( I hope you appreciate my poetry here, plumped, jumped and dumped).
She looked at him with disdain and then turning in my direction launched herself into my lap. With a bit of a wriggle she made herself comfy and picked up a few grapes from the table. She dropped one in her mouth and then selecting another from the bunch dropped one in mine too.
“Why thank you little one,” I said, “ And what’s your name?”
“I’m Suki” she replied and then repeated her formula with the grapes, one each.
I stroked Suki’s head unconsciously. She’s a pretty little girl and obviously very lively. She was equally well liked as neither Ibrahim or Mustapha had berated her for coming in.
“I’m four” said Suki, “ How old are you?”.
“Suki” said Ibrahim, “That’s a rude question to ask.”
“I don’t mind your Highness “ I told him, and then to Suki “I’m for…..ty.”
“That’s old” she said and I couldn’t help but burst out laughing.
“Lord Daud” said Ibrahim, “ I’m afraid my daughter can be a little forward at times. Please forgive her rudeness.”
“Your Highness,” I told him, “ My own daughter was such a delight as this at the same age. There’s nothing to forgive.”

As breakfast ended Suki took my hand and asked if I’d like to meet her pony. I answered that I’d be delighted if her Daddy didn’t need me. The Sultan who obviously indulged his wonderful daughter gave his permission and told her not to keep me too long as he needed to talk with me later.
With giggles she led me away and I spent a delightful hour being shown round the Royal Stables and meeting her horse Nightshade. She is an adorable child. After the tour she took me by the hand again and led me indoors. All the servants smiled as they saw her. Jenny appeared and with a pretend scowl said she’d been looking for Suki for ages. Such a terrible, wilful child she said with a smile.
I made my way back to the dining hall where I found Mustapha.
“Would you like to go to the Throne room,” he asked, “ You can see His Highness dispense his justice and his wisdom.”
We watched Ibrahim all morning and he treated all who came before him with seriousness and fairness. He dispensed justice like a modern Solomon and no-one complained at all.
I the afternoon Mustapha showed me the City and some Roman aqueducts that carried the water the city used from some distant hills. We returned to the Palace at about 6’oclock where I was greeted by Suki rushing up and asking me to come to dinner. Following her lead I came to the dining room where I found her father and mother waiting.
“Ha” said Ibrahim, “ She brings a friend hoping for support when she refuses to eat her vegetables.” Jenny and he burst into laughter.
I sat with Suki and watched as she manipulated food onto a fork. She managed to get it to her mouth and ate it. The next forkful also contained what looked like some carrots and she offered it to me.
“No thank you sweetie, I can already see in the dark.” I told her.
Puzzled she asked why and I said it was because I ate my vegetables.
She ate the forkful herself.
“Can we put the lights out Daddy to see if it works?” she asked.
We were all laughing as I explained it took more than one mouthful to accomplish it.
She ate the rest of her meal without complaint though I was offered the occasional forkful out of kindness I think.
After the meal we all wished her Goodnight and left her with her servant who would take her to bed.
We then settled down to our own meal where I noticed that Gottakov was missing. I enquired of Mustapha where Gottakov was and he told me that now a decision regarding the oil was made, Gottakov had left for Russia. I was very surprised as nothing had been said. I was also disappointed a it was obvious my mission had failed.
The meal went well and I made every effort to chat despite my feelings. Afterwards I said I would return home tomorrow and wished everyone a goodnight. I went to my room where I am now doing my diary before going to sleep.

Sunday 27th January.

The airport in Saudi was very helpful in finding me flight when I phoned. I rang Julia and asked her to meet my plane and went down to breakfast.
This morning Ibrahim was missing. Mustapha told me he had been called away urgently and I knew it was really so he didn’t have to speak to me.
After breakfast Jenny and Suki came to say goodbye to me and Mustapha brought the Rolls Royce round to take me to the airport.

During the ride back to Saudi Mustapha chatted and asked If I’d enjoyed my trip. I thanked him and said I’d enjoyed it very much though I regretted not having been able to talk to Ibrahim. He ignored this opportunity to explain why the decision over the oil was made without me having the chance to put my case.

When we reached the airport Mustapha offered me his hand. I shook it gladly as I’d found him a pleasant companion. Inside the airport I bought myself some cigarettes to hide from Julia, some perfume for Julia and some nail varnish for Ysabel.
The plane was on time and the journey was nice and easy. Not a doting grandmother in sight. At home I collected my case and headed for the ‘Nothing to declare’ line. A grim looking officer beckoned me over and asked if I had anything to declare. I answered in the negative and forbore asking him why he thought I’d chosen that line.
“No cigarettes?” he asked
“200 only” I replied.
“No alcohol?”
“None.” I said.
“Gifts?” he asked,
“Just some perfume and nail varnish “ I replied.
I thought that would be it but he asked me to open my case. Of course this was just the action to make me start feeling worried and I knew I started to sweat. I was nervous as I opened the case for him even though I knew I’d done nothing. The more he looked through the case the more nervous I got in case someone had planted something there. He noticed my nervousness and said he was just going to speak to someone.
He returned moments later with another officer who was cheerfully donning a pair of latex gloves. I was beginning to fear the worst when I heard him say “ Thank you My Lord, you’re clear to go.”
I’m sure I must have sighed with relief which no doubt made him more suspicious, but, it was too late, I grabbed my suitcase and was gone.
Julia met me at the gate and we hugged. “ I just asked where you were” she told me, “ some funny little chap carrying a box of latex gloves said he’d find out.” I hugged my saviour again.
On the journey home we chatted about my trip. I said I’d been unsuccessful but couldn’t understand what I’d done wrong and why Ibrahim hadn’t found time to speak to me. I told her all about the people I’d met and all about little Suki.
“I’m sure you did your very best my Dear” she told me comfortingly.
We arrived home at about Five and in a spontaneous burst picked up Ysabel and went for a pizza. Lady J told me that while I’d been gone she’d engaged a housekeeper called Grizelda who would start tomorrow.
When we got in I said I wanted an early night, gave the girls their gifts and went to unpack my case and hide the cigarettes.

Monday 28th January.

It was about 8.00 am when I felt a presence by my bed. I realised dimly that I had not taken Lady J her coffee and in a semi panic swung my legs ut of bed with my eyes still closed. I heard a sharp intake of breath and opened my eyes. There stood a strange woman trying desperately to avert her eyes as I made an equally desperate attempt to reach my dressing gown with my toes and slip it on. I managed it.
Before I could ask the woman who she was and what she wanted in my bedroom, she spoke.
“Telephone My Lord. It’s a Sir Bertram and he said it’s urgent.”
I went to the phone, realisation slowly dawning that this must be Grizelda.
“David Old Chap, I’ll be with you at nine o’clock, OK?” Without waiting for a reply he hung up leaving me spluttering.
Grizelda informed me that Lady Julia has gone to ‘er ‘orse and asked If I’d like a coffee. I thanked her and said that would be very nice and would she leave it in the lounge for me. I’d get it when I came back from dressing.
I showered and dressed quickly and by 8.55 I was enjoying my coffee in the lounge.
A knock at the door came and I saw Grizelda go to answer it. Within moments she was back with Sir Bertram in tow.
I was ready to apologise for my lack of success in Beritana when he stopped me in my tracks.
“Congratulations my dear chap” he said, “Her Majesty’s Government is in your debt. We couldn’t believe you managed it so quickly. Sultan Ibrahim asked me to pass on his thanks for the attention you paid his daughter who was it seems captivated with you. Beritana will welcome you at any time.”
“Ah, hm, it was nothing,” I said a little bemused. I’d managed it. How?
However, grateful that I’d somehow managed to succeed in the mission I didn’t voice that thought.
Sir Bertram repeated his thanks and asked if I’d be willing to undertake further missions. He seemed delighted when I agreed. I was delighted that he’d asked. He shook hands and left promising to be in touch.

When Julia returned I was still all smiles and able to tell her of my success.
“I already know my Dear,” she said, “I had a call when you left Beritana from someone called Mustapha Phag. He said he’d forgotten to tell you of the decision but I thought I’d better wait until you heard officially.”
I thought for a moment this would be a justifiable cause for murder.

I hope you enjoyed the first chapters enough to try the book but if not, thanks for reading this far. David

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