Terhouven told the story of his flight from London, on a Sunderland flying boat, his fellow passengers mostly men with briefcases who were rather pointedly disinclined to make conversation. A nighttime journey, hours of it, "just waiting for the Luftwaffe." But then, "the most beautiful dawn sky, somewhere off the coast of Spain, the sea turning blue beneath us."
Hoek glanced at his watch. "Dinner should appear any moment now," he said. "I took the liberty of ordering--I hope you don't mind, it's better if you give them time." A good idea, it seemed, they were happy enough to wait, the table talk wandering here and there. You had to be Dutch, DeHaan thought, to know that the gin was at work. Not much to be seen on the exterior, everyone calm and thoughtful, attentive, in no hurry to take the floor. They were, after all, strangers, for the most part, together for an evening in a foreign city, who shared little more than citizenship in a conquered nation, and its corollary, a certain quiet anger common to those who cannot go home.
"Years since I've been back," Hoek said to Terhouven. "Came out here in, oh, 1927. Looking for opportunity." An unvoiced naturally lingered at the end of his sentence--Holland was a trading nation which had, for centuries, used the whole world as its office, so commerce in foreign climes was something of a national commonplace. "And I found a way to buy a small brokerage, in ores and minerals, then built it up over the years. They mine lead and iron, in the south, and there's graphite, cobalt, antimony, asbestos. That's in addition to the phosphates, of course. That pays the rent
Excerpted from Dark Voyage by Alan Furst Copyright© 2004 by Alan Furst. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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