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di Peter Tinniswood (1936-2003)

– Mm.

– I am not a major in His Majesty's army.

– Mm.

Memories of a handsome grey-haired old man with a dumpy and dowdy girl fanning his brow. The girl had said: I would like you to see Abruzzi and visit my family at Capracotta. She was his pupil in Milan. She had plump pink cheeks. She lay bay his side, her plump pink hand stroking the fever of his thighs. I would love you to go to the Abruzzi, she said. There is good hunting. You would like the people and though it is cold in winter, it is clear and dry. You could stay with my family. My father is a famous hunter.

– I have never been a major in His Majesty's army. Quite the reverse, in fact. I was a temporary second lieutenant in a regiment of East African yeomanry.

– Mm.

– That's where the deception started. Under the bright stars of the Veldt on annual manoeuvres. The crackle of the campfire, old boy! The askaris chuntering sofdy. The cries of wild animals. And I said to myself: What are you making of your life, Skomer? What future have you? None, old boy, I said to myself. Absolutely nothing. That's when I hit on the idea of the wealthy widow.

– Mm.

  • P. Tinniswood, Dolly's War, HarperCollins, New York 1997, pp. 100-101.


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