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Authors: Margaret Pemberton

Tapestry of Fear

BOOK: Tapestry of Fear
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Contents
Margaret Pemberton
Tapestry of Fear

Margaret Pemberton is the bestselling author of over thirty novels in many different genres, some of which are contemporary in setting and some historical.

She has served as Chairman of the Romantic Novelists' Association and has three times served as a committee member of the Crime Writers' Association. Born in Bradford, she is married to a Londoner, has five children and two dogs and lives in Whitstable, Kent. Apart from writing, her passions are tango, travel, English history and the English countryside.

Dedication

To the memory of my mother-in-law,
Marjorie May Pemberton,
who enjoyed life even more than Miss Daventry.

Chapter One

“I have a surprise for you,” Pedro said. “ Miss Daventry, an Englishwoman. She is an old, old friend of mine. Whenever she is in the Basque country she stays in my inn. You will like her. She is …” he searched for the words, then said with a beaming smile. “She is one of your English eccentrics!”

Intrigued I followed him into the tiny inn. It only had two guest rooms, with waxed wood floors, white-walled and spartan. A single stone staircase divided the dining-room and kitchen from the bar where Pedro spent most of his time, shouting orders to Jaime, the good natured barman, and to Maria and Carmen who did the cooking and cleaning. He was a typical Basque. Large and jovial, his face the colour of tanned leather, with drooping black moustaches and a large apron tied around his ample figure. He had been overjoyed at my ability to speak Spanish and taken great pride in introducing me to the local fishermen who crammed his tiny bar.

He flung open the heavy oak door that led to the dining-room, introducing me with a flourish. Miss Daventry was easily in her seventies and looked rather formidable. She was tall and angular with a no nonsense approach about her. Wisps of steel grey hair escaped from a bun at the nape of her neck and she wore a straw boater on her head and a pair of heavy binoculars and a camera slung crosswise around her neck.

“Sit down, sit down,” she said as Pedro hurried off towards the kitchen. “ Really, if I'd known the man was going to make such a fuss of me I'd have given Miguelou a miss and gone to Africa instead.”

“You travel a lot?” I asked, pouring myself a drink of water.

“Well of course child, what else is life for?” then, without waiting for an answer. “I've just finished touring Hungary and the Carpathian mountains, such
interesting
places still to be found in central Europe. Little villages quite cut off from the modern world. Before Hungary I visited Syria and did a little digging in Antioch. There's always something to be found there. Mosaic pavements and bits of this and pieces of that. Of course the archeologists aren't at all pleased by amateurs, I find them such a
selfish
group of people … and there is Daphne, once so licentious and now nothing but a laid out garden. Such a pity,” she said wistfully. “It must have been much more interesting before.” She paused for a few minutes, absorbed in the past days of Daphne, and then said with renewed vigour: “ I didn't feel like continuing down into Palestine, or Israel, or whatever else you now call it. The whole area is dreadfully spoilt, not like it used to be, but it's the same everywhere. This part of Spain for instance, hardly recognisable these days. Thank God Miguelou's been left alone, if it hadn't I'd have gone south again. Africa … I really should visit Africa.…”

“Pedro tells me you are old friends,” I said, as the prospect of Africa clouded her eyes.

“Friends?” she said with a start. “Oh good heavens yes. I've known Pedro for years, but of course it was all a long time ago … during the civil war.…”

Before I could ask any more Carmen came in with two steaming plates of caldeirada. Miss Daventry beamed at her.

“So you are Antonio's daughter. Sit down while we eat and tell me how your father is keeping. Pedro tells me he is in Madrid.”

Carmen nodded shyly. Miss Daventry patted the seat of a wooden chair.

“Come on, sit down, there's no need to be shy. How old are you, eighteen, nineteen?”

“Eighteen,” she said, sitting down beside us.

“And what is this about Domingo? Pedro tells me he is in Carabanchel.”

She didn't answer for a moment, her fingers playing with the hem of her apron, and with horror I saw that her eyes were filled with tears.

“Domingo is a politico.”

“A politico?” I asked, mystified. “What does that mean?”

“A politico,” Miss Daventry said, “ means he is a political prisoner. Carabanchel jail is in Madrid.”

I put down my fork. The caldeirada no longer tasted pleasant.

“What has your brother done?” I asked.

“He is a separatist. The police caught him distributing leaflets …”

“ETA is the name of the Basque separatist movement. Nearly all the men in Miguelou will be members,” Miss Daventry said as Carmen's tears began afresh.

“They allow him to write two letters a week,” she slipped her hand and brought a creased envelope, its contents obviously read and re-read over and over again. “Perhaps soon he will be home …” Her lips trembled and she stuffed the letter back into her pocket and hurried from the room. Silence hung heavily for a few moments and then Miss Daventry sighed: “They never give up. There was a meeting in the bar this morning and you can bet your life it was political. Pedro was cooped up with Javier Mendez, the local romeo, Alfonso Cia, the local delinquent, Angel Garmendia, the local madman, and the village priest, Father Eustacio Calzada.”

“Sounds an interesting assortment. I met Javier Mendez and Angel Garmendia in the bar last night. Javier wanted to show me the night life in Zarauz, he was quite persuasive.”

“Javier is all right. But have nothing to do with Garmendia. He was shot in the head two years ago during riots in Bilbao. Pedro says he has been a man to fear ever since.”

“Then why was he cooped up in the bar with him this morning?”

“I don't know, but I'd like to. I'll go and have a word with him now.”

I finished my wine and then followed her out of the room, going upstairs for my swimming costume. The heat was uncomfortable and I had seen a nice little bay half a mile to the north of Miguelou that looked perfect for swimming. I spent the rest of the afternoon alternately swimming and sun-bathing, completely at peace and blissfully unaware how soon that peace was to be shattered.

That night an uncanny silence hung over the inn.

“Where is everyone?” I asked at last.

“I've no idea. I couldn't get any sense out of Pedro at all. I think I'll have an early night. The feeling in the bar is distinctly inhospitable.”

She was right. When I pulled the bead curtain aside the men fell silent and even Jaime was unwelcoming. Puzzled I let the curtain fall and went upstairs to my room. The monotonous rhythm of the water splashing against the harbour wall soon lulled me into a deep and dreamless sleep.

It was shattered abruptly. Out at sea there came the throb of an engine and as I padded across to the window and looked outside, I could see a speedboat racing across the bay, arc lights crossing and re-crossing the ocean. Then, just beyond Miguelou's headland, silhouetted in the searchlight, I saw the pale grey of a fishing boat ploughing through flying clouds of spray, and running figures. Above the noise of the speedboat's engine came a new, terrifying sound as gunfire ripped into the fishing boat and there came the distant sound of screams and cries. Horrified I stared as the speedboat thundered down on the fishing boat. The searchlight illuminated the scene grotesquely and I could see uniformed figures and then the curved arch of a man as he dived from the now captured fishing boat into the blackness of the sea. I cried out as a uniformed figure took aim and fired again. In the glaring ring of light another body dropped, sinking into the darkness of the water. Within minutes the fishing boat had been boarded and then the speedboat turned, its engines revving as it bore down towards the harbour.

I wrenched myself from the window, running for Miss Daventry. At the sound of my approach she wheeled round, her fingers to her lips.

“They shot them.…” I gasped painfully.

“Sssh,” In the distance came the sound of running feet. “ Into bed.
Quick!
You heard nothing and saw nothing, understand?”

“Yes,” I said, understanding all too well.

I was trembling violently as I clambered back into my own bed, every nerve stretching to catch a new sound, a fresh movement. I heard the inn door open and the sound of harsh breathing and racing steps and I clenched my fist against my mouth. In the distance I heard the speedboat as it roared into Miguelou's harbour, and then all hell broke loose. There were shouts and screams and the sound of pounding feet and breaking glass. With difficulty I controlled my breathing as loud knocking shook the tiny inn and I heard Pedro opening the door, his voice raised in protest as the police swarmed past him, throwing open doors and mounting the stairs towards the bedrooms.

My door was flung open and the brilliant glare of a torch dazzled my eyes. For a second as I sat there, the covers clutched in my hand, eyes blinking against the light, he said nothing, the torchlight swept the walls and floor and then swung back to my face.

“What is happening? What is the meaning of this?” I said in English, my voice unnaturally high.

“Your passport,” he ordered curtly. Indignantly I wrapped my dressing-gown around me and walked across to where my handbag lay on the dresser. He examined it carefully and thrust it back at me. Next door Miss Daventry's voice rose loud and clear.

BOOK: Tapestry of Fear
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