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Dear Deceiver

By:Doris E. Smith

Dear Deceiver
Doris E. Smith

       CHAPTER ONE



Haidee was not saying anything against the holiday, but now her nose was  turned to Dublin and she was thinking about Brand. She should be home  soon after seven. It was a nice thought, gladdening the platform at  South Kensington and the ensuing brief walk to the Brompton Air  Terminal.



So far, a trouble-free journey. The train which had brought her up from  the south coast had been punctual to the minute, she was spot on her  check-in time of four o'clock for the flight and the weather was  relaxingly warm and sunny. In fact, the only indication that it was  mid-October and not July or August came from the looks of the assembling  passengers. No tourists among them. Businessmen mostly, a couple of  priests and three nuns. Haidee was agreeing with one of the nuns, a  Little Sister of the Poor, that they could not have a nicer evening for  flying when the group was reinforced by three newcomers, a tall girl and  two men.

It was like nothing so much as the entry of the principals. You could  stand back, Haidee thought fancifully, and see as stage the glass doors  of the terminal, the green and white coach, the graceful little street  down which it would head, and the 'much of a muchness' passengers  waiting to board. Herself included, of course-Haidee Brown, twenty-five,  brown eyes, dark-rimmed oval glasses, smooth straight hanging brown  hair, trousers, white sweater, grey cardigan, camel reefer. Now suddenly  the foreground was filled.

One of the men, grizzled and handsome, had the girl affectionately by  the arm. She was animated. You noticed her smile before the rest of her  and that too was gay, deep-toned rose pink for her midi coat, a paler  scarf, lilac looped earrings, a chignon of fair hair. And if you wanted a  pair off for her, the perfect pair off, you had only to look at the  second man. Tall, lithe, casual, a sleuth disguised as a poet. His wavy  brown hair was longish, his eyes sleepy-lidded but watchful.

And it's rude to stare, Haidee reminded herself, turning back to the Little Sister of the Poor.

A few more minutes and the coach door was opened. The pink girl turned  to the man who had her arm and kissed him. He stepped back wearing a  smudge of lilac-tinged lipstick. The girl's eyes danced mischievously,  but she said nothing. The other man's sleepy eyes lit with amusement:  'You're not going to let him walk down the street like that-'

Haidee did not see the end of it, but some minutes later 'Fair Chignon'  and 'Brown Waves' took the seat two rows behind her. She heard them  chatting and laughing as the coach pulled away, did its little tour  round the block, reentered Brompton Road and trundled off through West  London.

Not long now, Haidee thought, and hoped she was not doing an injustice  to the holiday, her first for five years. Everyone in the hotel had been  so kind and friendly. But perhaps the resort in off-season had been  just a shade too quiet. All in all she could not help feeling a let-down  to the friends who had urged her so repeatedly to 'have a marvellous  time, really live it up'.

It was a prescription the doctor himself had given the morning after her  mother had died when he had come round to sign the death certificate.  Five years Mrs. Brown had been ill and for the last three Haidee had  stayed at home to look after her. Not everyone had approved, the doctor  himself had not, but now it was all over and the next objective was a  job.

The airport environs with their man-made scenery of tunnel, flyover and  underpass-it was really very ugly compared with the green sliver of the  North Bull and the intervening lagoon which Haidee had on her front  doorstep-were now slipping past the windows. One more traffic hold-up  and the coach stopped before a wall of glass.

'Straight up the escalator and turn to the right,' the driver said  briskly. He gave Haidee a hand down the step and she went, as directed,  in the wake of a priest with a fine Kerry brogue.

There was, as it turned out, no need for briskness. The announcement  came just as she set foot on the vast fields of Heathrow's Number One  Terminal Departure Lounge.

'Aer Lingus Irish regret to announce that their flight EI.165 to Dublin  has been delayed owing to weather conditions at Dublin. A further  announcement will be made in an hour.'                       
       
           



       

In the crowd round the Aer Lingus information desk for every two people  who were philosophic six asked the impossible. It was a nasty mixture of  seeing people behaving unreasonably and knowing that something inside  you wanted to be just as bad. Haidee was alone in the world, quite alone  now except for Brand; she didn't have to wrestle with the problem of  relatives or business contacts and that ought to have made her lot  considerably easier than most. Strangely, it seemed only to thud home a  few notes of self-pity. 'I've no one to care about me, no one is waiting  at Dublin to take me home.' And a jolly good thing, she thought  stoutly, and went to have some of the free refreshments Aer Lingus had  offered.

En passant, it was an object lesson to see the Little Sisters of the  Poor sitting in the teeming departure area as placidly as though they  were in their own chapel.

At seven o'clock flight EI.165 and five luckless predecessors were  cancelled. Alternative transport had been arranged, the clerks at the  information desk stated with palpable relief. Within the hour passengers  would be taken by coach to Euston for the boat train. They skimmed over  the length of the journey. 'Five hours in the train, seven on the boat.  That's from Heysham, it can't go from Holyhead till the bridge is  repaired.'

Haidee calculated and was appalled. Dun Laoghaire nine o'clock, what  time Dollymount cross-city in the morning rush hour? She'd better phone a  neighbour and leave word about Brand. He at that moment was the second  last straw, far away and not knowing why nobody was opening the door.  The last straw was the free-for-all round the telephone. All the  instruments were in use except one which was out of order. She dialled  unavailingly for a few minutes and stood up.

'Finished?' a voice asked pleasantly. 'If so, may I, please?' An arm in a  checked tweed sleeve had already stretched over her. Brown eyes smiled  down at her from heavy lids. There was a pleased quirk to the lips.

'I'm afraid it doesn't work,' Haidee said apologetically. 'At least it won't work for me.'

It didn't for 'Brown Waves' either. She waited till he said: 'Blast!'  and gave up. 'Did you want Dublin too?' he asked, and Haidee nodded.

'Not much chance, I fear.' He gestured at the crowd. 'Is it important?'

'In a way. Someone who might be looking for me.' The only one now who did. Stop that, Haidee, no dice.

The telephone was no dice either.

'Looks like we're out of luck.' 'Brown Waves' pulled a face, smiled at  her and moved away. It was a smile as crisp as his open shirt and with a  drawback. It made you want more.

And pigs might fly, Haidee told herself sharply.

London by night, as the fleet of coaches lumbered through it, had the  style she'd thought it had lost. Two fire tenders wailed through  Piccadilly, the British Museum-a surprise to Haidee who had lost her  bearings-was suddenly there on the right, and in Woburn Place the lights  of a hotel foyer flashed by like a pearl in the darkness. The girl  sharing the seat with her turned out to be a student about to commence  her third year medical in University College Dublin. They chatted and it  passed the time, but at Euston they lost each other.

Euston was full of hazards like putting down your case for a minute and  having it get mixed up with a pile coming from Lourdes. She got it, and  herself, at last to the barrier where a representative from the airline  issued her with tickets to Dun Laoghaire.

'Will I have a berth on the boat?' Haidee asked him.

'We can't arrange that,' she was told. 'But we'll refund the cost if you do.'

'You'll be refunding in any case, I presume,' a voice behind Haidee cut  in with decision. 'There's a whacking difference, after all, between  this and the air fare.' The girl in the rose pink midi was standing  there. Haidee had not seen anything of her during the wait at Heathrow;  probably she and 'Brown Waves' had been having dinner, they certainly  had not been in the self-service queue for free snacks. She looked like  it, she had that 'wined and dined' look and not a shred of the fatigue  already showing in other faces. More even. She'd started an argument and  was plainly revelling in it. Truthfully, at that moment dissension  seemed out of place.                       
       
           



       

An onlooker expressed the thought. 'Who does she think she is? It's not  the young fella's fault there's a fog. Lady Muck!' The jibe,  embarrassingly loud, sent Haidee moving down the platform.  Unfortunately, by this time she was a marked woman. 'Are you by  yourself?' the critic asked eagerly, catching her up. 'That's grand. I  am too.'

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