Sleeping Tiger

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Authors: Rosamunde Pilcher
the convolutions of the coast. The island was pierced with inlets of peacock-blue water, and above the rocks could be glimpsed delectable white villas, small gardens spilling with flowers, sunbathing terraces and diving-boards.
    Selina said, “I wouldn’t mind living here,” but Toni’s mood was rapidly worsening and he would make no reply. The road was a road no longer, merely a lane winding between the mesembryanthemum-covered walls of other people’s gardens. It crested a slight rise, then sloped towards a final and much larger inlet, where a tiny harbour sheltered a few fishing-boats, and quite big yachts were moored out in deep water.
    The lane ran down to the backs of houses. Tomeu, ahead of them, waited. When he saw the taxi edge over the crest of the hill, he got off his bicycle, laid it against a wall, and began to unload the baskets.
    Selina said, “That must be the house.”
    It did not look large. The back wall was white-washed and blank, except for a tiny slit of a window and a shuttered door, shaded by a thick, black pine. Behind the house the road branched, and ran to left and to right, along the backs of other houses. Here and there a narrow alley of stairs sliced down between the buildings towards the sea. There was a pleasantly haphazard look about it all, with washing flapping on lines and some nets put out to dry, and one or two skinny cats sitting in the sun and washing themselves.
    Toni’s taxi bumped and slithered the last few yards, Toni complaining meanwhile that there would be nowhere to turn, his taxi was not meant for such bad roads, he would put in a claim if any of his paintwork was scratched.
    Selina scarcely listened. Tomeu had opened the green shutter door and disappeared into the house, lugging his heavy baskets. The taxi lurched to a halt and Selina scrambled out.
    Toni said, “I will go and turn and come back for the money.”
    â€œYes,” said Selina absently, watching the open door. “Yes, you do that.”
    He accelerated so swiftly that she had to step back into the gutter to avoid having her toes run over, but when he had gone, she crossed the lane, and went, under the shade of the pine, cautiously in through the open door of the Casa Barco.
    She had thought it would be a little house, but instead found herself in one large high-ceilinged room. The shutters were all closed, and it was dark and cool. There was no kitchen, but a small counter enclosed a galley, like a little bar, from the main living-space, and behind this she found Tomeu, on his knees, stacking the provisions into a refrigerator.
    He looked up and smiled as she leaned over the counter. She said, “Señor Dyer?”
    He shook his head. “No aquí. ”
    No aquí. Not here. Her heart sank. He wasn’t back from San Antonio, and somehow she was going to have to fob Toni off with excuses, and suggestions that he be patient, when neither of them had any idea for how long they would have to wait.
    Tomeu said something. Selina stared uncomprehending. To show what he meant, he came out from the little galley and went over to the far wall and began to undo the shutters and fling them wide. A blast of light and sunshine invaded the house and everything sprang into colour. The south wall, that faced out over the harbour, was almost all window, but louvred double doors opened out on to a terrace, shaded by a split-cane awning. There was a low wall, and a few battered crocks and urns, containing geraniums, and beyond the wall, the shimmering blue of the sea.
    The house itself was divided in a novel way. There were no interior walls, but the roof of the galley formed a little gallery with a wooden railing and this was reached by an open flight of steps like a ship’s ladder. Beneath the ship’s ladder another door led into a minuscule wash-room. A hole high in the wall provided light and ventilation, and there was a sink and a lavatory and a primitive-looking

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