Commander Scott came out on the veranda, his eye patch tangled up on his forehead. He pulled it down into place as another man might tuck his shirt into his trousers. Scott did not like Americans much, and now the Comtesse Sandy LeComtre had brought these two around for advice on a cheap hotel. Commander Scott was an Englishman assigned to the Sahara land-reclamation project, and his temporary residence was this villa in Tangier. It was covered with weeds. Commander Scott's wife served three beers and five glasses. Commander Scott's eye had been shot out in the war. Everybody in Tangier knew he was broke.

"When you get to Marrakech," he said, unfolding a slip of paper, "go to this address. You will have to ask directions. The hotel is a dollar a night, and there is a restaurant across the street."

The Americans left the next day, heading south on an old motorcycle. In Marrakech there was a dead cow in the road, and streams of rush-hour bicyclists passed on either side of it like currents around an island. It was raining lightly, diluting the waste in the alley swales. The address was in the old part of the city, where it was necessary to walk the motorbike. The American woman said she would go on ahead, with the slip of paper, and find the hotel. The light was dim, and he soon lost sight of her in the maze of souks and byways. With a one-dirham coin he bought a small kebab and ate it.

By darkness he had tired of pushing the motorcycle and stopped to rest. They had become separated, and he could not think how to find her again. Perhaps the American Embassy. If there was one. After a while he came around the corner and saw her standing by a low doorway with no markings. A concierge appeared and wheeled the motorcycle into a courtyard, where the rain ran across the glass roof in transparent streams.

Their room was upstairs. When she had killed the bugs on the walls she opened her kit and brushed her hair. There was no window in the room, and the door was warped open.

"I don't understand what Commander Scott has against Americans," she said quietly. She was not one to cry, except when exhausted.

That was 1967. Last summer, on a trip to London, she paid $130 a night for her hotel in Grosvenor Square. It had been recommended by an American.