It was a new idea for Raven. She asked the obvious questions. “What makes you think they can’t trace me here in Europe. I can’t even go to the police for help anywhere but Spain or England because I don’t speak the languages. I would be more helpless than ever.”
“No. Take my word for it, because I’ve done it. Once you leave Marseille you can go anywhere in Europe without leaving a trail. Border crossings are no problem. They just look at your passport and hand it back to you. They don’t even attempt to record the millions of people who go from country to country every day. If you pay with cash, there is no record of where you have gone or what you have done. Stay away from the Holiday Inn. Live in youth hostels, small cheap hotels, or campgrounds, and you can go underground easily. I think it is the safest thing for you to do.”
She smiled slowly. “With you?”
“Tons of them.”
“Then I’ll do it!”
# # #
My hand was beginning to throb. If Skinny had cut a little deeper, he would have severed all those tendons and I would be heading for a hospital and reconstructive surgery. It was not a pleasant thought.
I said, “You’ll have to pack for me,” and sent Raven forward. Beyond the main cabin was the door to the W.C., and beyond that was the forecastle. Will and I had completed it with two pipe bunks, but we never slept there. It was packed full of personal gear and boxes of canned goods. Raven brought back the cardboard box marked camping.
“Get out both packs.” They were internal frame rucksacks, sturdy and small enough to squeeze overhead in a train or bus. In went two down sleeping bags stuffed inside rolled up Ensolite pads, a tent, two rain parkas, a spare pair of jeans, shirt, underwear, and socks for me, a packet of maps and guidebooks, a tiny packet with soap and razor, a coil of nylon line and packet of miniature clothespins, and two small towels.
When Raven had finished, the packs were still half empty. She said, “Is that all?”
“We need to buy you one more pair of jeans and shirt, and maybe replace those sandals with something more sturdy. Other than that, this is all we’ll be carrying.”
I had her slip into Will’s pack and adjusted the straps to her. Then I showed her how to remove the backrest above the port transom. There was a locked secret compartment; I gave her the combination and she pulled out a slim money belt.
“Raven,” I said as I zipped it open and counted the contents, “you have to understand the ground rules. I have three thousand dollars American. By hitchhiking, staying in youth hostels and campgrounds, and never eating in restaurants I had planned to stretch that over several months. A typical pair of tourists would go through it in less than a week. You have to be willing to do things my way or we will run out of money.”
“I can do that.”
“You say you can, but I saw what you paid for those clothes.”
“They were reasonably priced.”
“To you; by the standards you are used to. Not by the new standards you have to learn. For the next few weeks, you are going to deliberately become a street person. Are you ready for that?”
She thought about it. “I guess so. I have to be.”
“No, you don’t. You can fly home.”
” ‘Into the lion’s mouth.’ Quoting you.”
“I think you are safer with me. But if you go with me and can’t live like I live, you won’t be able to back out. There won’t be enough money to get home. You’ll have to go to another consulate, call home, and wait for money to be sent. If you are going to back out, it had better be now.”
She answered by leaning over and kissing me lightly on the lips. more tomorrow