Knight & Deigh started life as a retelling of The Orphans, from the point of view of the second lead character, Hannice Knight. It, too, is partly set in the rural Tanzania I remember from the early 1980s, but some of the technologies used are much more recent. To that extent, it is anachronistic. Don’t forget, though; it is fictional, made up, lies. All of it.
Hannice Knight had run the African operation of his father’s global business for many years, when a freak accident at home left him unable to walk. Together with physiotherapist Sophie Deigh, he tries to bring into his life the excitement and adventure he missed in his formative years, due to the need to be tied to the business.
A number of adventures and activities follow including scuba-diving, sky-diving, power-boating and camping, and a half-brother he never knew about; but even these can’t lift Hannice’s spirits.
What, or who can? Will the developing closeness between Hannice and Sophie come to anything, and what of the rumoured advances in medical technology?
Beginning on 12 February 2017, I am publishing Knight & Deigh here as a serial; one scene each Sunday.
The full list of scenes so far published is here
Knight & Deigh. Chapter Five, scene one: Nocturne interlude.
Sophie and I arrived at the gate of Nocturne. As expected, my man on the gate recognised me. I was heartened when he very politely told me that he would need authorisation from the new boss to let me in.
“You haven’t changed much here, then?” I asked, once we were inside.
“Only the new bedroom for you in what you used as the den,” Max replied, “I’ve no use for a room like that, so it was easier to convert it than to build on, and quicker, and cheaper, too.”
Kanene led the way through to the new bedroom. I followed, Sophie walking beside my chair, and Max following up the rear. Max told me that Kanene had done a lot of the detailed specification work on the new bedroom, and was proud of what she’d achieved. I was happy that Max had allowed her to receive the credit for her work. She was a good kid, and deserved to be recognised. The practicalities of the room impressed me, and Sophie expressed admiration of the detailed design and layout. Kanene beamed under the praise being showered on her. She was as happy as I had ever seen her in all the time she had looked after me.
We had already done our physio for the day, but when Sophie suggested another session, I was more than happy to oblige. Sophie and I came out for dinner an hour or so later. Kanene ate with us, and informed me that not only was Fonseca, the TanzCap director, her father, but he was also a shaman, a witch-doctor. She confessed that he had asked her to spy on Max and me, and report back to him anything of interest. Max had already briefed me, so none of this came as news to me; and Sophie was brilliant. She listened carefully to what Kanene had said, then immediately suggested that Kanene must have felt better, having got that off her chest. None of us thought any less of Kanene, and we all agreed with Max’s plan that she should continue feeding information to her father, but that Max would control the narrative.
After dinner, Kanene left us and we started to set out a rough agenda for the rest of the week.
“At this stage in his recovery,” Sophie said, “Hannice can’t commit to any activity lasting more than a few hours; calm and rest are important, and I need regular time for his physiotherapy and personal care. Dr Harry made it clear that if I couldn’t guarantee to set time aside for those things, as a top priority, Hannice shouldn’t leave Knight Towers.”
“I’m quite relaxed about that,” Max replied, “It means that our meeting with TanzCap… I take it you’ve briefed Sophie on that, Hannice?”
Max continued, “It means that I can justify insisting that our meeting with TanzCap doesn’t go on for very much more than an hour. That should concentrate a few minds. And I’m not talking about any of us here, or Paul Jaxson.
“The meeting is set for 11am Wednesday. At your request, Hannice, tomorrow is a free day. I’ll be in my study all day, if you need me, otherwise…”
“Planning to show Sophie some of the sights,” I said, “I’d like David to bring the limo at 10am. Sophie, can you get me ready for bed, please? Max, I’ll bid you goodnight.”
Tuesday was a good day. Sophie and I visited a lot of the tourist spots in and around Dar-es-Salaam, something I hadn’t done for many years.
It’s funny how a chap can live somewhere for twenty years, yet not really know the place at all. When David, the driver, arrived and I had settled into the limo, I said, “Need to show Mrs Deigh the sights, David. Never been to Dar before, doesn’t know what to expect. What do you recommend?”
“I think Kariakoo Market very good spot, Bwana Knight, but might be difficult for you.”
“Quite, David. Not ready for crowds just yet. Next?”
“Everybody should see Askari Monument, Bwana. National Museum, too, and Village Museum. Oh, and Wood Carvers’ Village, and Bagamoyo Town.”
“Can we do all that in one day, David?”
“For sure, Bwana. What you want do for lunch?”
“Where is best?”
“Good Thai food in Sawasdee restaurant in New Africa Hotel. Best view of city and harbour, too.”
“Sounds like a plan, David,” I said, “Let’s get started. You follow the best route, and I’ll tell you soon at what time we want lunch.”
“Ndio, Bwana,” he replied, and we set off.
I called Lindy.
“Lindy. Knight here,” I said.
“Be a good chap and book a table for three at the Sawasdee; as close to one o’clock as you can. Call me back when you have it.”
“Yes, Boss. Names of guests?” he asked.
“Mr Knight, Mrs Deigh and Mr Aldredge,” I replied.
“Ooh! You taking me to lunch, Boss? What about Max… I mean Miss Matham?”
“She’ll have to manage without you for an hour or two.”
Somehow, we managed to spend an adequate amount of time at the Askari Monument, the National Museum and the Village Museum, and still make the New Africa Hotel by 1.30pm, the time Lindy had booked. We met Lindy at the entrance to the restaurant.
“Do you have any good news for me, Boss?” Lindy asked, as the Maitre d’ led us to our reserved table and we took our seats.
“Not so far,” I replied, “New treatments being developed all the time, so always hope.”
“When will you be back with us, Boss?”
“You’ll have to get used to Miss Matham running things for a while, at least. She’s a good sort, Lindy; known her longer than I’ve known you, and that seems to be forever. She’ll look out for you, provided you look out for her, if you get my drift.”
The Thai food was more than acceptable, and the surroundings were pleasant and refined. The main attraction of the restaurant, on the ninth floor of the hotel, was without doubt the views over the city and the harbour. Not seen a view like it in all the time I’d been here. Knew this hotel, of course; used its casino a time or ten, but never been up here before.
After lunch, David took Sophie and me to the Wood Carvers’ Village, which fascinated Sophie. I think she would have been happy to spend an entire day there; and an entire purseful of shillingi. From there we went to Bagamoyo Town where, I am sorry to say, Sophie was not enamoured of the ruins.
On the way back, I brought Sophie up to date with what I was thinking, enjoining her to keep it entirely to herself until I had discussed it all with Max.
“Frightfully hush-hush, Sophie,” I said, “but major plans are afoot.”
“I know you don’t want to be tied to your desk, but have you decided something?”
“I have,” I replied, “I want Max to take a bigger role in Knight Trading, leaving me free of the day-to-day running of the business. I plan to keep overall control, and remain responsible for strategy and all major decisions, but I want Max and my other execs to implement those decisions. You and I can then go off and have some fun. How does that sound to you?”
“What sort of fun?”
“Who knows? We’ll make it up as we go along!” I said, followed by a roar of laughter. Sophie laughed, too.
On the way back through the city we had David stop at the central tourism agency, where we arranged our first bit of fun, a safari to the Serengeti and the famous crater at Ngorongoro. It would be my first proper safari after twenty years in Africa.
We were laughing excitedly when we turned up at Nocturne.
“Not a word to Max, remember?” I enjoined.
“Of course not,” Sophie replied, and started laughing again.
We were still laughing like children when we got into the house. Such was our mirth, that we couldn’t speak to Max, so we went straight through to my room.