‘Making twenty-seven thousand in all ?’ she said.
Meyer took off his glasses and started to polish them with a soiled handkerchief. ‘Good, then we can proceed as provisionally agreed with your representative in London. I have hired a thirty-foot motor cruiser, berthed at Oban at the present time, rigged for deep-sea fishing. Major Vaughan will leave next Thursday afternoon at high tide and will attempt the run with the first consignment.’
‘And where is it to be landed ?’ she asked.
Which was my department. I said, “There’s a small
fishing port called Stramore on the coast directly south from Rathlin Island. There’s a secluded inlet with a good beach about five miles east. Our informant has been running whiskey in there from the Republic for the past five years without being caught so we should be all right. Your end is to make sure you have reliable people and transport on the spot to pick the stuff up and get the hell out of it fast.’
‘And what do you do ?’
‘Comply with my sailing instructions and call in at Stramore. I’ll contact you there.’
She frowned as if thinking about it and Meyer said calmly, ‘Is it to your satisfaction ?’
‘Oh yes, I think so.’ She nodded slowly. ‘Except for one thing. Binnie and I go with him.’
Meyer looked at me in beautifully simulated bewilderment and spread his hand in another of those Middle-European gestures. ‘But my dear young lady, it simply is not on.’
‘Because this is an extremely hazardous undertaking. Because of an institution known as the British Royal Navy which patrols the Ulster coast regularly these days with its MTBs. If challenged, Major Vaughan still stands some sort of a chance of getting away. He is an expert at underwater work. He carries frogman’s equipment. An aqualung. He can take his chances over the side. With you along, the whole situation would be different.’
‘Oh, I’m sure we can rely on Major Vaughan to see that the Royal Navy don’t catch us.’ She stood up and held out her hand. ‘We’ll see you next Thursday in Oban then, Mr Meyer.’
Meyer sighed, waved his arms about helplessly, then took her hand. ‘You’re a very determined young woman.
You will not forget, however, that you owe me four thousand pounds.’
‘How could I ?’ She turned to me. *When you’re ready, Major.’
Binnie opened the door for us and I followed her out and as we went down the corridor Al Bowlly launched intoGoodnight but not goodbye.
In Harm’s Way
As we went down the steps to the street, a Land-Rover swept out of the fog followed by another, very close behind. They had been stripped to the bare essentials so that the driver and the three soldiers who crouched in the rear of each vehicle behind him were completely exposed. They were paratroopers, efficient, tough-looking young men, in red berets and flak jackets, their sub-machine-guns held ready for instant action.
They disappeared into the fog and Binnie spat into the gutter in disgust. ‘Would you look at that now, just asking to be chopped down, the dumb bastards. What wouldn’t I give for a Thompson gun and one crack at them.’
‘It would be yourlast,’ 1 said. “They know exactly what
j 2The Savage Day
they’re doing, believe me. They perfected that open display technique in Aden. The crew of each vehicle looks after the other and without armour plating to get in their way, they can return fire instantly if attacked.’
‘Bloody SS,’ he said.
I shook my head. ‘No, they’re not, Binnie. Most of them are lads around your own age, trying to do a dirty job the best way they know how.’
He frowned, and for some reason my remark seemed to shut him up. Norah Murphy didn’t say a word, but led the way briskly, turning from one street into another without hesitation.
Within a few minutes we came to a main road. There was a church on the other side, the Sacred Heart according to the board, a Victorian monstrosity in yellow brick which squatted in the rain behind a fringe of iron railings. There were lights in the windows, the sound of an organ, and people emerged from the open door in one and twos to pause for a moment before plunging into the heavy rain.