Novel Preview: The Hidden Sun

For Famagusta and the hidden sun
That rings black Cyprus with a lake of fire.

James Elroy Flecker

As she crept along the first floor corridor of the Hotel Constantia, Famagusta, shoes in hand, Sally spotted the waiter with the early morning tea some distance ahead.

God! – He’ll wake Liz and she’ll think I’ve been abducted, she thought, quickening her pace to intercept him. It was at the precise moment, when he raised his hand to knock at her bedroom door, that she called him by name in an urgent stage-whisper, ‘Vasos!’

He turned sharply, startled at first to see her fully dressed and in the corridor, when he’d expected to find her on the other side of the door in bed. Then he grinned. All the staff had a soft spot for Miss Locke, the happy one – as they called her amongst themselves – and the only one of all the young ladies willing to make some attempt to learn Greek.

‘Efcharisto poli,’ she murmured, taking the tray from him and waiting until he had reached inside and switched on the bathroom light.

As the door closed behind her, she made her way past the bathroom and into the bedroom. She had sufficient light to make out her own unoccupied bed and that of her room-mate. Then one of her shoes, squeezed precariously between finger and tray, dropped to the floor with a loud clatter.

‘That you, Sally?’ Liz’s voice was heavy with sleep.

‘No, it’s Colonel Grivas.’

‘I thought he was a General.’

‘So does he, but that’s just wishful thinking.’

‘What time is it?’

For answer Sally switched on the bedside-light and slid the tray onto the table between the two beds, nearly knocking off Liz’s watch, an alarm clock, two books and an ash tray in the process.

As Sally poured the tea, Liz slowly opened her eyes and took stock of the situation, ‘Have you been out all night?’ she asked incredulously.

‘Looks like it,’ agreed Sally serenely.

‘You want your brains tested.’

‘Possibly,’ she admitted, handing Liz her tea. ‘Don’t you want to know what I’ve been doing?’

‘Surprise me.’

‘Playing the piano.’

‘Playing the piano? All night? The Moonlight Sonata, I suppose.’

‘No, Elgar’s Chanson de Matin,’ Sally grinned.

‘At Edward’s?’

Sally nodded, ‘We went back for coffee when we found the Naftikonkentron closed.’


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