1. Marbella

2. From Torremolinos to Churriana

3. Ben the Baker

4. After the Fashion Show

5. The Bronx

6. You are never too old to Learn

7. Peter from Poona

8. Rule Britannia

9. Sports and pastimes

10. The Constant Nymph

11. Ben rises to the Occasion



Men Of War

'A good soldier has his heart and soul in it. When he receives an order, he gets a hard-on and when he sends his lance into the enemy's guts, he comes.'

Back in Spain, Jacques and Jeannine left us, but first made me promise that Stephen and I would come up to fiesta in ojen the following week-end for the annual ferias a sort of combination of a fair and a carnival.
Both Stephen and I had plenty to do, what with the legal formalities for my purchase of the penthouse pet and then arranging to have Stephen's furniture transported to my new home. I was delighted that the princess allowed me access to the apartment before the end of the complicated ritual which accompanies the buying of a property on Spain. As Stephen was now bereft of his furniture, he was obliged to stay with me - an arrangement to which neither of us took exception ..For his part, Stephen had to clear up his affairs preparatory to his quitting Spain.

We were sitting in my lounge, relaxing one evening. For a change, neither of us felt like talking a lot: in both our minds was the thought that very soon we would be heading for Northern Europe. For me, my Spanish summer was drawing to a close and I was getting ready to say goodbye to Spain for another year. As for Stephen, his adieus had more finality to them. Heaven alone knew when, if ever, he would be returning to Spain and there was inevitably a tinge of melancholy which toned down his normal exuberance.

'I'll tell you what, Stephen. Why don't you come back with me when I leave? It would be company for me in the car and you could take a turn with driving.'
'But, love, I am going to England, home and beauty, not the Low countries.'

'You don't have to make the place sound like a depressed area! Anyway, if you are not in too great a hurry, you could stay a few days in Amsterdam. Be my guest; I promise you won't be bored.' 'I'm sure of that.' Stephen grinned. 'But I can't hang on here for weeks while you finish the buying of the Penthouse .'
'Don't worry. I need to get back, too. I don't have to stay. My lawyer can complete the deal for me. I want to leave as soon as we get back from Ojen.'

'Well, that would suit me very well,' Stephen said diffidently. 'I'll come along if you promise me that you will drive nice and quietly and not try to burn up the road and put your car into orbit.'
'I promise I shall drive like a lady.'
'I don't believe you, but I'll take a chance.'
Our conversation was interrupted by the phone. It was Porky McGrew.
'Oh, Xaviera, you're back! I tried to get hold of you a few days ago.'
'I've just got back from a trip to road to morocco.'
'Glad to catch you. Listen, honey, I am going up north next week to pick up a new boat which has been built for me. I'd like to say ciao to you and your limey boy friend before I leave. How about the two of you coming over here for a drink and a bite to eat tomorrow night?'
I consulted Stephen and as he had no objection, I agreed.
That evening, we went to dinner at La consuela, a pretty restaurant in the Old Town managed by a sensitive, gay Englishman whom I had always liked as much for his amusing small talk as for his culinary inventiveness. Stephen had a few things to clear up with somebody in La Pacheca and we arranged that he would join me at the restaurant.

'Good evening, Xaviera,' Gary, the manager greeted me, as I walked into the dining room. 'I don't often see you alone. A quiet table for one, dear?'
'No, I have a friend who will be joining me shortly. Don't worry, Gary I'm not on the shelf yet!'
'I wouldn't have thought so for a moment. Would it happen to be my cousin that you are dining with, by any chance?'
'Your cousin?'
'Stephen Noble?'

I nodded. 'I had no idea that he was your cousin.'
Gary laughed. 'There's no reason why you should: we don't look a like and we don't a lot of each other. It's not many aristocratic, old families which can boast two black sheep.' Gary had led me to a table which gave a view of the narrow footpath on which the restaurant fronted, through a screen of verdant greenery. A red shaded lamp stood on the red gingham tablecloth, stiffly starched and spotlessly clean.

'You know,' I said, 'Stephen has never told me anything about his family and life back in England. Tell me, Gary, is Noble his real Name?'
Gary stared at me and then a sly smile spread across his face.
'Now, tell me, Xaviera, why on earth do you ask me that?'
'I honestly don't know. The idea just came into my head.'
'Well, you must be psychic, darling,' Gary was amused and astonished. 'No, Noble is not his real name. As a matter of fact, his family planning is one of the oldest and most illustrious in the country. He chose the name Noble as a sort of joke, because the family is noble, you see.'

'So why is he living incognito?'
Gary shrugged his shoulders.
'There have been episodes in the life of my dear cousin which are regarded as rather shocking by our highly respectable relatives. In fact, come to think of it, there were precious few episodes which did not shock them.'
'Tell me more,' I urged Gary.
'Not me, love. I don't see a lot of Stephen but I respect him and I am not going to be a party to marbella gossip. But you could get him to tell you some of the things which he got involved in which he was in the Congo. It should appeal to a writer - Stephen's secret life, I mean. Get him to talk and you will have material for a half a dozen books.'

12. The Magician

13. Say it with Diamonds

14. The simple life

15. Forced to Fast

16. The Persian Boy

17. Penthouse Pet

18. The road to Morocco

19. Have you anything to Declare?

20. Men of War

21. Fiesta in Ojen

22. Highway Robbery