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Beverley's Books



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Lesotho, 1962.

Philippa Tremain, daughter of the District Commissioner in Lesotho's remote mountain district, has opted for a life of luxury with wealthy young lawyer Matthew Myburgh instead of following her heart's desire with Stuart Price, the rugged bush pilot who rescued her from a plane crash.

While Stuart fuels her sense of adventure, Matthew offers the glamorous lifestyle Philippa believes her mother gave up when she wed a colonial official in Lesotho's remote African mountain kingdom.

However, when Philippa's reservations about her decision are compounded by a discovery that jeopardizes her future, she turns to Stuart for help.

Stuart has spent the last four years distancing himself from his conman father and to help the woman he loves requires a terrible choice.

A choice that goes to the heart of his sense of honour with ramifications far beyond himself and the two women who love him.


A sweeping romance of diamonds, murder, and greed in an African mountain kingdom on the cusp of Independence.



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Cape Town, 1962
“Is it the sports car or the way he looks at you?" Susan joined Philippa by the window, squinting into the late afternoon sun as the sleek green MG wound its way up the avenue toward Cape Town University's women's residence.
Against the grandeur of Table Mountain's backdrop, the sports car appeared diminutive, but Philippa had grown up amid even more impressive peaks in neighbouring Basutoland. The shimmering ocean embracing Philippa's beautiful, recently adopted city was more of a novelty, and she hoped that after Angela's party, Matthew might propose a visit to the beach.
"Definitely the sports car!" Philippa pretended to play along, reaching for the burnt-orange, full-skirted evening dress draped over her desk chair. "But don’t tell Matthew. Now, won’t you help me into this? I should have been ready ages ago."
Susan followed Philippa to the small mirror near the door. “Matthew's always late,” she said as she zipped up the dress. "You know, it wouldn't hurt to make him wait every now and then."
Ignoring the comment, Philippa pulled on her gloves and smoothed her dark chignon before twirling around. "How do I look?" Her confidence wavered, replaced by sudden nerves.
"Not bad. Can I borrow that?" Susan gestured to the Brush-on Mascara by Revlon that she'd given Philippa for her birthday, then helped herself.
"But what do you really think?" Philippa's heart began to flutter.
Susan darkened her sandy lashes, then turned back to Philippa with a sigh. "Come on now! Are you asking if Matthew will approve? Of course he will. You're stunning. This year’s Rag Queen, no less!” Susan returned to the mirror to tame the light brown curls framing her freckled face before glancing out of the window. "Now, where has Matthew vanished to? Oh dear, it seems Eliza has captured his attention." Her voice dripped with sarcasm. “You go ahead. I'll catch up with you at the party—"
Philippa hesitated. Was Susan really so jealous? Matthew Myburgh is rich and entitled. He’ll play with your heart and then trample on it. Susan had actually said this. But then, Susan was small and plain and freckled whereas Philippa was–
“I’m sorry there’s only room for two in the car.” With so much to look forward to, Philippa decided she could afford to be gracious. “You could sit on my lap–”
“Don’t be ridiculous! And crease your mum’s beautiful dress?”
Philippa blinked away the unexpected stinging behind her eyelids. The lovely Ciel creation had been the last her talented mother had made, given to Philippa on her nineteenth birthday nearly two years before.
Philippa slipped her feet into her new kitten-heeled pumps, pausing in the doorway. “See you at the party, then.”
“Just make sure he takes you to Angela’s and doesn’t whisk you off to see the whales instead.” Susan stabbed a curl with a bobby pin as she peered at her own reflection. “You know how unpredictable Matthew is, and you know how much I hate parties when you’re not there to help me talk to people.”
* * *
“Matthew!” Philippa greeted him with a smile, taking the last step with the poise that had been drilled into her at Finishing School, curving her lips the way her mother, a celebrated English beauty, had shown her for such situations: welcoming, but not overenthusiastic.
Matthew Myburgh might be rich, but Philippa’s mother had been one of the Richmond sisters, featured in magazines throughout the thirties and forties, famed for their ivory skin, lustrous dark hair, and violet eyes.
And their propensity for marrying into the aristocracy.
Except for Eleanor Richmond, Philippa’s mother. The Black Sheep of the family. Arguably the most beautiful of the three girls, and certainly the most wilful, Eleanor had been disowned when she’d eloped with a Colonial to live in the tiny mountainous kingdom of Basutoland just eight months before Philippa had been born.
Still, Philippa’s family could hold their own, she reminded herself as she assessed Matthew’s handsome tousled head and muscled torso from the other side of his sports car as he chatted with his rugby mate, Hugh, and Hugh’s girlfriend, Eliza.
Square-jawed, blue-eyed and fair-haired, Matthew had the Adonis good looks that made the girls either tongue-tied in his presence, or over-talkative. Philippa fell into the latter category, though she’d worked hard lately to emulate those sultry, dark-haired beauties of the screen who made more impact by being silent and enigmatic.
Matthew looked up from his conversation as Hugh farewelled him with a salute and a ‘good luck’ for their rugby match the following day.
“Sorry I’m late!” His white teeth gleamed as he came round from the driver’s side to greet her.
Why did his smile always make her knees feel weak? Literally, weak.
Interpreting her frown, Matthew gave a sheepish glance at his filthy rugby jersey and mud-stained shorts. “I got caught up at rugby practice.”
“Philippa! Your father’s on the phone!” Susan’s voice floated down from the first-floor window.
Philippa ignored her. “But, Matthew… the party starts in ten minutes.”
“Philippa! It’s long distance!”
“And it’ll only take me ten minutes to get changed.” Matthew’s tone was soothing.
No, it won’t. Philippa didn’t need to put that into words. She managed a shaky smile, though she felt like stamping her foot or crying as she stepped back from his approach.
“Come on, darling, don’t give me that cross look.” He flashed her his familiar lazy, confident smile while all the disdainful things Susan had said about him flashed through her mind. As usual, Matthew expected Philippa to forgive him.
Yet the things Susan said were true. Many of them, anyway. Matthew was always late. And he was selfish.
And maybe it was time to stop making allowances.
“Tell daddy I’m coming now!” she shouted back to Susan, turning on her heel but saying in clipped tones over her shoulder to Matthew, now lounging against the spotless green duco of his car, “I’ll see you at the party, later. Daddy’s probably waited an hour to get put through. I wouldn’t dream of keeping him waiting.”
No doubt the irony was wasted on Matthew, she thought, as she stomped up the steps, ignoring Susan’s enquiring look and settling herself on a chair in the corridor by the communal telephone.
“Sorry I took so long, daddy,” she said, picking up the receiver Susan had left hanging by its cord, and trying to sound cheerful. “Everyone’s in a mad rush here. We’re off to Angela Myers’s twenty-first birthday. How’s things in the mountains?”
She used the moment of crackling down the phone line to regulate her breathing and calm her anger and disappointment. She had done the right thing, hadn’t she? Susan would be proud of her for standing up for herself and making it clear to Matthew that she wouldn’t be treated with such cavalier disregard. Susan’s phrase.
“...another murder last week in the Qthing district. I doubt you’d have read it yet, but it’s in the Cape Times.”
Her father’s voice was suddenly clear enough to understand, and Philippa drew in a quick breath. “Again? I thought it was all over. Do you think--?” She wasn’t sure if she should ask. Now that her focus was on her father’s troubles, and how she could help, even by being just a sounding board, she had to tread carefully. Her father’s disappointment that there’d been no justice for those responsible for the mutilation and murder of a young boy the previous year tended to make him irritable. “Do you think the same chief is responsible for this one, too?”
“It doesn’t matter what I believe. Let’s see what evidence turns up this time, eh?”
The line crackled once more before his father’s voice returned, crisp and business-like. “Now… I wondered if you’d thought about coming home for half term.”
Philippa hesitated, reluctant to say no.
“There’s room on the Saturday flight from Maseru to Mokhotlong.”
She cringed. Her father sounded so hopeful.
“Deborah from Drakensberg Air said Mrs Vermoed just cancelled as she’s staying in Durban another week. Of course, it’s a long journey to make from Cape Town, but I thought I’d put it to you, nonetheless.”
Philippa breathed out slowly. Mrs Myburgh was hosting a tennis party the following Saturday and Philippa desperately hoped Matthew would invite her to the family home, a sprawling mansion in Kenilworth. Even if she was angry with him right now. “I’m so sorry, but I can’t, daddy,” she said in a rush. “There are quite a few things on and…. Matthew’s introducing me to his parents,” she lied.
“Of course, of course.” Her father sounded understanding, which was a relief. “And is this boy worthy of you, my darling? Mrs Lehmann asked if she’ll be hearing wedding bells soon.”
Philippa tried for a light-hearted laugh. “We’ve only been seeing each other for a few weeks. I can’t wait for you to meet him, though. Oh, and, daddy! He said he’d love to go on trek if you had something interesting that coincides with end of term.”
“I’m sure that could be arranged.” Her father sounded more relaxed now. “Why don’t you bring him home with you at Christmas? I’d like to reassure your dear mother that I’ve done my due diligence when it’s my time to meet her at the Pearly Gates.” He paused. “It’s been two years today, my girl. My, but you’ve grown up in that time. She’d be so proud.”
Philippa shifted, feeling uncomfortable. She hadn’t exactly distinguished herself in her academic career, to date. And her mother would have considered that more important than the fact Philippa had been chosen Cape Town Varsity’s Rag Queen and was going out with the only son of the famous Myburgh dynasty.
A niggling kernel of doubt made her squirm as she went on, “Mummy would definitely have approved of not just Matthew but of Mrs Myburgh, too. Or, at least, her dress sense.” She laughed to diffuse the tension. “Mrs Myburgh was in the social columns of Saturday’s Argus and this month’s Fair Lady Magazine.”
There was more crackling before their connection resumed.
Then Philippa heard, “Well, good for her. Now, if you’ve got a party to go to, I won’t keep you talking.”
“It’s all right. Matthew—” She hesitated. “Matthew was held up after rugby so I’ll see him at the party later. Tell me more about the investigation. What you’re allowed to, anyway.”
“You have your mother’s tact,” her father remarked. “Well, for one thing, it means long days for me. And for the police troopers. They’re doing an excellent job as they did last time. Don’t envy the poor sods. The Resident Commissioner wants the preliminary report on his desk by next week. And then Stuart’s flying me up to Letseng La Terai tomorrow. The miners were snowed in last week.”
“Stuart, the pilot? I thought he went back to England.”
“For his mother’s funeral. He returned to Maseru on the first of this month.” He chuckled. “I wondered if you’d ask. You had quite the schoolgirl crush on him, if I recall. I have no doubt the Lehmanns and Oosthuysen were all involved in making sure he was rostered to fly you out to St Anne’s each term.”
“Oh, daddy, that was when I was sixteen!” Philippa felt her cheeks burn. “Didn’t those gossips have anything better to do?” She turned at the sound of heels clicking down the stairs.
Josie, holding the arm of her latest boyfriend Frank, who played left wing with Matthew, stopped in the corridor to silently mouth an offer of a lift to the party as she pointed to Frank’s car keys.
Philippa nodded vigorously.
Let Matthew go to the party on his own. She wasn’t always going to be at his beck and call.
“Daddy, I have to go now.” She stood up to finish the conversation. “My friends are waiting. Have a good weekend!”
“Don’t you two look a sight for sore eyes?” remarked Frank gallantly as Philippa replaced the handset. “Susan got a lift with Barney,” he added, offering Philippa his free arm to lead the girls down the steps towards his car.
“And Matthew’s gone back to his digs to get changed. He’ll meet us at the party.” Philippa hoped she didn’t sound disappointed. “That’s if he doesn’t fall asleep instead.”
Frank flicked a wry glance at Josie. “I’d do the same if I could get away with it. I’m hardly going to be rested for tomorrow’s match, am I, Josie, my girl?” He pinched her ear playfully. “Wouldn’t you rather hang off the arm of a top South African rugger bugger than–?”
“You boys have never let a good party get in the way of anything,” Josie interrupted as he opened the car door. “You drink yourselves stupid the night before and think you can play the hero on the rugby field the day after. And mostly you do, though don’t think you can get away with it forever,” she grumbled, running one hand through her pixie cut and the other down her emerald green slimline dress.
“It’s called sowing our wild oats. We can’t change what nature intended. Why hurry into dull domesticity before we have to, my dear?”
Philippa decided to ignore Frank’s feigned solemnity as she climbed into the car, shivering in the evening breeze.
Her shiver was from anticipation, too.
Domesticity wasn’t dull, if one was successful in one’s career.
Mr and Mrs Myburgh were successful, and they’d got married when they were younger than Matthew and Philippa. Success was a big house with a swimming pool, parties, clothes and frequent mentions in the press.
That had been Philippa’s mother’s world back in England, and Philippa was sure her mother would be proud if Philippa regained what had been lost.
Not that Philippa was ashamed of how she’d been brought up, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to win back the love and acceptance of her mother’s estranged family?
Philippa was every bit Matthew’s equal, and he was ready to settle down.
Even if he didn’t yet know it.
* * *
Frank turned into the jacaranda-lined avenue in front of the cottage where music could be heard from the street. Excited, the girls tugged at their gloves and bit colour into their lips as they climbed out of the car.
Matthew was unlikely to have arrived, Philippa guessed, so she was happy to be waylaid by a group of admirers in the passageway where she still had a good view of the front door.
“Hey, Philippa, when are you going to go out with Tommy and put him out of his misery?” asked John, the resident clown, handing her a glass of fizz which she downed in one go for Dutch courage.
Tommy, who was going to be a nuclear physicist, sent her a panicked look through coke-bottle horn-rimmed glasses as he flushed to the roots of his oily dark hair and disappeared into the crowd.
John roared with laughter. Brains didn’t count for much in their circles. John was popular because he made people laugh while Matthew enjoyed star billing because, not only was he Adonis-handsome, he was their best rugby hope. Philippa knew the only reason she had any sort of cachet was because she’d been Cape Town University’s Rag Queen earlier that year.
And because she was going out with Matthew.
“Tommy is a darling, but I can’t risk breaking Matthew’s heart!” Philippa responded with mock dismay as John peered owlishly at her, brandishing the champagne bottle once more.
“I don’t understand why you insist…” he pointed an accusing finger at her, “ongoing out with no-hoper Matthew Myburgh when you could have me!” He grinned as he carelessly emptied champagne into the various upturned glasses held out towards him, unperturbed by the shrieks of those whose feet got wet in the process.
“Talking of no-hoper Matthew Myburgh, he’s certainly taking his time in getting here,” Philippa remarked with a pointed look at the door, shocked to hear the clock strike ten. How long had she been talking? “He was only going home to change. I knew he’d fall asleep!”
“Matthew? He got here ages ago,” said Tommy, re-emerging from the direction of the kitchen.
“He did?” Philippa looked about her but could see no sign of him in the press of bodies.
A few couples were jitterbugging on the Chinese rug that occupied a tiny rectangle of space amongst the press of bodies and the furniture that had been pushed against the walls.
“I saw him upstairs a little while ago.” He stabbed a finger in that general direction.
“Philippa… your hair! You look just like Audrey Hepburn!” came an enthusiastic voice after Philippa excused herself to weave through the throng. “And I love your dress!” Marcia Didcott, lounging upon the arm of a comfy chair as she ruffled the curls of a young man who appeared to be asleep, raked her with an admiring look. “Where did you get it?”
“My mother made it,” Philippa didn’t mind confessing. Despite her father’s position in the Colonial Service, there wasn’t a lot of money to splash around but she and her mother, who still liked to cut a dash, sewed most of their evening wear. “You haven’t seen Matthew, have you?”
Marcia pointed to the ceiling. “He was up there half an hour ago.”
Half an hour ago?
Philippa pushed through the crowded sitting room as she made for the stairs. On the first floor, a couple with their arms wrapped about each other swayed to the mellifluous tones of a scratched Bobby Darin record someone had put on for the third time.
It was quieter up here. Philippa leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. She wished she hadn’t drunk so much. The walls seemed to throb with sound and her head spun.
Somewhere beyond the Sea was the song playing.
Philippa swayed to the lyrics, and felt the same longing for reunion as sung by her favourite rock ’n roll artist.
Where was Matthew? She missed him? How could he not have come looking for her? Was he punishing her for not letting him kiss her when she was cross he was late?
Oh, why had she let Susan get into her ear? Matthew needed gentle nurturing if he was to properly appreciate Philippa and consider her for the role she so desperately wanted.
When the song ended, she returned to the present and opened her eyes. It was time to resume her search, the Persian runner muting her kitten-heeled pumps as she trailed from room to room.
The first door she tried was locked.
The second bedroom was unoccupied.
Frustrated, she retraced her footsteps. Surely Matthew wouldn’t have left the party without her?
Outside, a car hooted its horn. Looking towards the window behind her, Philippa noticed an alcove which hid the door to another room. The cottage was like a rabbit warren, bigger than it looked from the outside.
She knocked.
No answer. Perhaps he’d gone to sleep in here. The poor darling must be exhausted after his rugby match. Philippa shouldn’t have insisted he come to the party.
“Hello?” she whispered, pushing open the door.
The room was in darkness, but the half open curtains let in enough light from the street for her to make out movement on the bed.
There was a muffled shriek and, in the dim light, some furtive scrambling and smoothing of skirts.
It wasn’t Matthew. “Sorry!” Hot with embarrassment, Philippa began to back out of the room. She was just closing the door when a familiar defensive feminine wail, “It’s not what you think, Philippa!” made her flick the light switch by the door.
The guilty lovers on the bed blinked owlishly, Susan smoothing her passion-spoiled chignon and straightening her pink net skirts; Matthew, straightening his tie and adjusting his trousers, his gaze sliding guiltily away from Philippa’s shocked face as he slid off the bed and came towards her.
“We weren’t doing anything,” Susan gabbled. “Really!”
“It’s not what it looks like, Philippa--”
Philippa jerked her arm back as Matthew reached forward, his aftershave enveloping her like a cloud of betrayal. Tears stung the back of her eyes as she wrenched open the door behind her once more, trying to make sense of the scene.
Susan? Her best friend?
And Matthew? Her boyfriend?
“It’s not what you think.” Matthew pleaded innocence now, but in the harsh light, there was no mistaking the lipstick on his shirt collar and around his mouth, nor the guilt on both of their faces.
Without waiting to hear another word, Philippa spun round and ran from the room.

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