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28

I'm going away for a bit, said Biedersen.

Oh, are you? said his wife. Why?

Business, said Biedersen. I'll probably be away for a few weeks, at least.

His wife looked up from the burners on the stove she was busy cleaning with the aid of a new product she'd found in the shop yesterday and which was said to be more effective than any other brand.

Oh, will you? she said. Where are you going?

Various places. Hamburg among others. There are quite a few contacts I need to follow up.

I understand, said his wife, and started scrubbing again, thinking that she didn't at all. Understand, that is. But it didn't matter, of course. She had never interfered in her husband's affairs-running an import company (or was it two now?) was a complicated and not especially appealing business. Nothing for a woman like her. Ever since they married, they had been in agreement about one thing: they would each look after their own side of family life. He would look after the finances, and she would take care of the home and the children. All of whom had fled the nest now, and formed their own families on more or less similar lines.

Which in turn gave her time to devote herself to other things. Such as stove-top burners.

How's it going? she asked.

How's what going?

Well, your business. You seem to have been a bit stressed these last few days.

Nonsense.

Are you sure?

Yes, of course.

That's good to know. But you'll keep in touch, won't you?

Naturally.

But when he'd left, she found herself still wondering if there hadn't been something wrong nevertheless. Ever since-she worked it out-Tuesday evening, when he'd come home rather late and in a bit of a nervous state, he had been unusually irritated and touchy.

And then they had found one of his old National Service mates murdered, and that had knocked the stuffing out of him, she could see that. Even if he hadn't wanted to admit as much, of course.

So perhaps it was a good thing for him to get away from it all for a while. Good for all concerned, as they say. There were things she also didn't want to admit as well, such as not objecting to having their large house to herself for a change. She had nothing against that at all, she decided, and put a little extra elbow grease into her scrubbing.



| Woman with Birthmark | c



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