‘Very much. I’ve never met anyone quite like him. He’s a strange man, violent and bitter, and yet he can be the gentlest person Fve ever known..
‘The story of my life.’ Hamid sighed, “What would you like to know?’
“We stopped at his bungalow this afternoon. There was a girl there. Famia, I think he called her..
.His housekeeper’s daughter..
She seemed to hesitate and then plunged oa, sls she his mistress T
‘So that’s it?’ Hamid chuckled gently and took her hands. ‘He’s a grown man, Janet, not a boy. There would be something strange if he didn’t feel the need for a woman occasionally, now wouldn’t there?’
Momentarily, her hands tightened on his as anger swept through her like an ‘uncontrollable fire, and Hamid touched her gently on the right cheek.
‘Poor Janet India makes a harsh taskmaster.’
‘I think I love him, you see,’ she said in a low voice. ‘It’s as simple as that.’
‘It’s never as simple as that,’ he said solemnly and pulled her to her feet ‘I think we’d better go back while I can still remember that fact’
‘Just one more thing,’ she said. ‘Is he as embittered over this Korean business, as he appears to be sometimes?.
Haiaid shook Ms head..Not really. He’s too intelligent to blame himself for what was really aa accident of war, but he loved the Navy. That was Ms greatest loss.9
‘And what does he believe in aowT
‘Nothing. At least this is what he tells himself, and spends his time living dangerously, working for the highest bidder to amass a fortune/ He chuckled gsntiy.
‘Only to end by betraying all his hard won principles when he looks upon the face of suffering, as he did in Ladakb. during the Chinese invasion.’
‘You like him a great deal, don’t you?.
.I value real friendship,’ he said simply. ‘Jack Drum-rnond has shown that to me many times.’
They walked back through the garden in silence. As they mounted the steps to the terrace, Drummond came through the windows.
“There you are. Father Kerrigan tMnks he should be going. He doesn’t like leaving Kerim for too long. Ill run you back in the jeep.’
Til get your coat,. Hamid told her and went inside.
“Did you win your game?’ she asked.
‘No, did you?’
Janet smiled faintly..You couldn’t be more wrong..
She brushed past him and went inside and Drummond stood there in the half-darkness, listening to the rise and fall of the voices, a cold finger of excitement moving inside him, leaving his stomach hollow and empty.
She sat next to him on the way back, Father Kerrigan on the other side, and now and then the wind lifted the edge of her silken headscarf into Drummond’s face.
He was aware of her warmth, the softness of the thigh against his, the delicate perfume, and gripped the wheel tightly, inhaling her sweetness, aware of feelings he had not experienced for a very long time.
The old priest kept chuckling to himself. 1 wish you could have been there, the pair of you. And didn’t I show him? It’ll be many a long day before he comes crowing over Terence Kerrigan again.’
Drummond glanced at Janet and grinned as he turned the jeep into the courtyard of the mission. ‘I think he must have won.’
‘Ah, get away with you!’ The old man snorted as he got out of the jeep and then smiled, his face dear in the moonlight. ‘A fine night for a drive.’
Drummond hesitated and Janet said calmly, ‘Mr. Cheung mentioned the ruins of a Buddhist temple not far from here. He seemed to think they were worth seeing by moonlight’
‘And maybe he had a point there.’ Father Kerrigan slapped the side of the jeep with his bare palm. ‘OS with you, now, and don’t be late.’
Drummond took the jeep out through the entrance and turned across the moonlit plain beside the river. He had taken down the canvas tilt earlier and the wind was sharp and cold, carrying with it the sceat of wet earth. A few minutes later, they came over the edge of an escarpment and the ruins of the temple lay before them in the centre of a small plateau, bare and windswept, crumbling with the years.