Outside the court building, Toni and Pero had been besieged by a phalanx of reporters and cameramen who followed them until they reached their car. Another group waited outside her apartment house.

          ‘Please come up for a while,’ Toni sighed, ‘I’m exhausted... really I think I need a double whiskey ... perhaps you do too... something to calm our nerves, dear Pero, and to forget about that woman slobbering all over me.’ 

          At her flat she excused herself and when she returned Pero had poured out two stiff drinks.

          ‘Do you think he’ll be all right now?’ Toni asked, ‘I’m so worried...’

          ‘Saadi’s uncle assured me nothing will happen to him,’ Pero said confidently. ‘He seemed to think the Ministre d’ Interieur had persuaded the police to release that tape - which absolves us.  He isn’t really blaming us... but I told him as soon as Radouan was free we’d have a meeting and decide what we can do for them... they know you have deep pockets and suspect Radouan’s will be even deeper.’

          ‘What we’ve done for him has saved his niece,’ Toni said grimly, ‘… wretched woman and the reputation of their family... I shouldn’t think we’d have to do much more but I know we will.  I doubt the MI tried to influence the Marrakech police about that tape, though.’

          ‘They didn’t need to. Their mere presence was enough to frighten everyone.  And the fact that we must have known of its existence,’ Pero smiled mischievously, ‘they can’t quite untangle that one, but they’re impressed. When they couldn’t find out who our contact was they assumed it was the MI.’

          ‘You talked to him, to the uncle, for such a long time,’ Toni chuckled, ‘really; I was at my wits end trying to think of what to say next.’

          ‘Her uncle, he couldn’t resist trying to appeal to me that as a fellow Moroccan I should assist him in trying to swindle you when it came time to negotiate with them... promised to split the proceeds fifty-fifty.’

          ‘That’s very interesting … not unexpected, I suppose... Come to think of it perhaps you should accept his offer. He’ll think you’re a friend; you can return it to us later and be a mole in their organization...  Radouan won’t like it, he’d rather drive them out of town, but he will have to learn when you have money you must be devious as well as generous.  He’s much too headstrong... must learn how to be more oblique... thinks he’s really clever because he’s an Arab and Arabs are supposed to know all the tricks... but we British... let me tell you, sometimes I think we’re the most devious people on the planet... When Radouan realizes how rich he’s going to be he won’t quibble about paying off...’

           Impressed by her cleverness, Pero laughed. ‘Oh yes he will, believe me, it’s not the money, it’s loss of face ... why should he have to pay to get them off his back... you will see, he will wait and wait and finally he will destroy them.’ 

          ‘I know, but right now let’s be realistic … they’re a powerful clan.  Radouan sees himself a desert warrior, riding into battle ... that’s his madness… what Francesco finds so amusing.  But since we have the money it’s far easier to pay... call it blood money if you will...’

          ‘This is assuming we win...’ Pero replied.

          ‘Is there any doubt?’ She touched glasses with him, ‘I thought we had won.’

          ‘I don’t think it’s going to be as clear cut as you think....’

          ‘You mean because Moulay could be the Patron’s son too... I can’t believe it.’

          ‘The Idrises are Chorfas.  The mother’s blood line doesn’t count for much... the male line carries the blood of the Prophet Mohammed. But Moulay’s mother the maid was Moroccan, the Baroness was not... so in a way Moulay might be more of a Cherif than Youssef.’

          ‘And Chorfas are above the law?’

          ‘Somewhat... really, THEY ARE THE LAW!  Chorfas are often considered to be beyond the law because they have inherited the instincts and purity of early Islam from their pious and learned ancestors - an almost magical idea... the Mahdi, Prince of Islam, that sort of thing.’

          ‘And what does this have to do with Moulay poisoning Youssef?’ Toni asked.

          ‘It could be seen as God’s will.  Since there is no proof, it could be argued that the real Youssef was invaded by some evil djinn - God’s punishment for the Patron’s adulterous behavior.  Perhaps the Patron’s wives did some maji to make Moulay and Youssef fight; maybe they hired a Marabout to do maji against the Patron... to ruin his life. One never knows!  So these are all things which the Judges will be considering... it’s in their blood to do so. Islamic Law, Sharia, is not standardized or simplistic like Roman law; it’s filled with exceptions, and profound insights into human behavior based on thousands of years experience.  It’s your English way of thinking, based on Roman law, that’s not logical... yet in many ways perhaps it’s more practical.’

          ‘Dear Pero, I’m so lucky to have had you by my side through all this,’ Toni sighed and smiled as if really seeing him for the first time... ‘What would I have done?  I’m sure I’d have hired the first fixer who came along and probably botched the whole thing... I’ll never be able to thank you enough.’

          ‘You don’t have too,’ he held her hands, ‘believe me I’m happy to have been in the right place at the right time, and it seems to have improved my chances of having a good practice here in Morocco. My family is very pleased.’


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©Elwyn Chamberlain 2006