Agatha Raisin arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport with a tan outside and a blush of shame inside. She felt an utter fool as she pushed her load of luggage towards the exit.
She had just spent two weeks in the Bahamas in pursuit of her handsome neighbour, James Lacey, who had let fall that he was going to holiday there at the Nassau Beach Hotel. Agatha in pursuit of a man was as ruthless as she had been in business. She had spent a great deal of money on a fascinating wardrobe, had slimmed furiously so as to be able to sport her rejuvenated middle-aged figure in a bikini, but there had been no sign of James Lacey. She had hired a car and toured the other hotels on the island to no avail. She had even called at the British High Commission in the hope they had heard of him. A few days before she was due to return, she had put a long-distance call through to Carsely, the village in the Cotswolds in which she lived, to the vicar’s wife, Mrs. Bloxby, and had finally got around to asking for the whereabouts of James Lacey.
She still remembered Mrs. Bloxby’s voice, strengthening and fading on a bad line, as if borne towards Agatha on the tide. “Mr. Lacey changed his plans at the very last minute. He decided to spend his vacation with a friend in Cairo. He did say he was going to the Bahamas, I remember, and Mrs. Mason said, ‘What a surprise! That’s where our Mrs. Raisin is going.’ And the next thing we knew this friend in Egypt had invited him over.”
How Agatha had squirmed and was still squirming. It was plain to her that he had changed his plans simply so as not to meet her. In retrospect, her pursuit of him had been rather blatant.
And there was another reason she had not enjoyed her holiday. She had put her cat, Hodge, a present from Detective Sergeant Bill Wong, into a cattery and somehow Agatha found she was worrying that the cat might have died.
At the Long-Stay Car-Park, she loaded in her luggage and then set out to drive to Carsely, wondering again why she had ever retired so young—well, these days early fifties was young—and sold her business to bury herself in a country village.
The cattery was outside Cirencester. She went up to the house and was greeted ungraciously by the thin rangy woman who owned the place. “Really, Mrs. Raisin,” she said, “I am just going out. It would have been more considerate of you to phone.”
“Get my animal . . . now,” said Agatha, glaring balefully, “and be quick about it.”
The woman stalked off, affront in every line of her body. Soon she came back with Hodge mewling in his carrying basket. Totally deaf to further recriminations, Agatha paid the fee.
Copyright © 1993 by M. C. Beaton. All rights reserved.