Jack Higgins – The Savage Day

She turned, one eybrow raised. ‘Don’t tell me you still intend to go over the rail if the situation arises.’

Til take you with me if I do, I promise.’

She put the suitcase on the table, opened it and took out Binnie’s Browning automatic. She held it in her right hand for a moment, looking at me, eyes narrowed slightly, then she tossed it to Binnie who was sitting down on one of the bench seats.

T>amn you, Vaughan,’ she said rather petulantly. 1 never know which way to take you. You smile all the time. It isn’t natural.’

‘Well, you’ve got to admit the world’s a funny old place, love,’ I said. ‘Definitely a laugh a minute.’

I went into the galley, got the bottle of Jameson and three mugs. When I returned she was sitting on the opposite side of the table from Binnie smoking a cigarette.

‘Whiskey?’ I said. ‘It’s all I’ve got, I’m afraid.’

She nodded, but Binnie shook hfs head. Admittedly we were dancing about a bit, for quite a ground swell was building up inside the harbour, but he already looked ghastly. God knows what it was going to do to him when we ventured into the open sea.

Norah Murphy said, ‘Where’s the cargo?’ I told her and she nodded. ‘What are we carrying ?’

‘Fifty Lahti anti-tank cannon and fifty sub-machine-guns.’

She sat up straight, frowning deeply. ‘What goes on here? I expected more. A great deal more.’

Impossible in a boat this size,’I said. “Those Lahtis are seven feet long. Have a look in the aft cabin and see for yourself. It will take a couple of trips to get all your first order across.’

She went into the aft cabin. After a while she came back and sat down, picking up her mug again.

jzThe Savage Day

‘Another thing,’ I said. ‘If we’re challenged, if this boat is searched, we don’t stand a cat in hell’s chance, you realize that. As I’m not one of those captains who relishes the idea of going down with the ship, I’d appreciate it if you’d make it clear to Billy the Kid, here, that we don’t want any heroics.’

Poor Binnie couldn’t even manage a scowl. He got up suddenly and made for the companionway.

Norah Murphy said, ‘I’m afraid he isn’t much of a sailor. What time do we leave?’

‘I’ve decided to make it a little later than I’d intended. Five o’clock or even six. Give this weather a chance to clear a little.’

‘You’re the captain. What about your friend Meyer? Will we be seeing him again?’

‘I should imagine so – when the right time comes.’

Binnie stumbled down the companionway and clutched at the wall to keep his balance. I said, ‘Never mind, Binnie. They say Nelson was sick every time ne went to sea. Still, I don’t suppose that’s much comfort. Your lot didn’t have much time for him either, did they?’

He ignored me completely and disappeared into the aft cabin. I started for the companionway and Norah Murphy moved round the table to block my way. She seemed genuinely angry.

‘Were you born a thoroughgoing bastard, Vaughan, of do you just work at it?’

The boat rocked hard, throwing her against me so I did the obvious thing and kissed her. It was hardly all systems go, but I’d known worse.

When I finally released her, she shrugged, that strangely cruel mouth of hers twisted scornfully. ‘Only fair, Major,’ she observed.

*Now who’s being a bastard?’ I said and went up the companionway fast.

We left just before six that evening and although the weather hadn’t improved all that much, at least it hadn’t got any worse. As I pressed the starter and the engines rattled into life, the wheelhouse door opened, a flurry of wind lifting the chart like a sail, and Norah Murphy came in.

She stood at my elbow peering into the gloom of evening. ‘What’s the forecast?’

‘Nothing to get worked up about. Three to four winds with rain squalls. A light sea fog in the Rathlin Island area just before dawn.’

‘That should be useful/ she said. ‘Can I take the wheel?’

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