I called softly, ‘Binnie,’ and shot the man in the back of the head and he went down like a stone falling.
In the instant, as if by magic, Binnie had the Thompson in his hands, was already firing as he turned, catching the man who was standing by Norah Murphy with a long
burst that drove him right back across the deck of the MTB and over the far rail.
Then he went for Barry who was still pulling hard for the top of the ladder. There was a flash of yellow oilskins on the far side of the rail, Binnie stopped firing as Norah Murphy ran, crouching, then scrambled over.
As she reached the safety of our decks he started to fire again, but by then Barry was over the top of the ladder and into the safety of the wheelhouse. A moment later, the engine note deepened as someone gave it full throttle and the MTB surged away into the darkness.
A burst of sub-machine-gun fire came our way and I ducked as one of the side windows in the wheelhouse shattered. Binnie kept on firing until the Thompson jammed. He tossed it to the deck with a curse and stood listening, in the sudden silence, to the sound of the MTB’s engines fading into the distance.
I replaced the Mauser in its clip, shoved the flap back into place and went out on deck. Norah Murphy crouched by the rail on one knee, her face buried against her arm. I touched her gently on the shoulder and she looked up at me, a great weariness in her eyes.
‘You had a gun ?’ I nodded. ‘But I don’t understand. I thought they searched?’
I pulled her to her feet and Binnie said, 13y God, but you’re the close one, Major, and I didn’t hear a damn thing.’
‘I’d have had them if the Thompson hadn’t jammed.’
He kicked it towards me and I picked it up and tossed it over the rail. ‘A bad habit they had, the early ones.
Now let’s get rid of the evidence.’ I turned to Norah Murphy. Tump some water up and get the deck swabbed down. Make sure you clean off any bloodstains.’
‘My God,’ she said, a kind of horror on her face. ‘You must be the great original cold-blooded bastard of all time.’
‘That’s me,’ I said. ‘And don’t forget the broken glass in the wheelhouse. You’ll find a broom in the galley.’
Whatever she felt, she turned to after that and Binnie and I deal with the two guards, stripping their bodies of any obvious identification before putting them over the rail. Then I went back to the wheelhouse and examined the chart quickly.
Norah was sweeping the last of the glass out and paused. ‘Now what?’
‘We need a place to hole up in for a few hours,’ I told her. ‘Time to breathe again and work out the next move before we put in to Stramore.’ I found what I was looking for a moment later. ‘This looks like it. Small island called Magil ten miles out. Uninhabited and a nice secluded spot to anchor in. Horseshoe Bay.’
Binnie was still at the rail at the spot where we had thrown the two bodies over. From where I stood it looked as if he was praying, which didn’t seem all that probable – or did it ?
I leaned out of the window and called, ‘We’re getting out of here.’
He turned and nodded. I switched off the deck lights, took theKathleen round in a tight circle and headed out to sea again.
Magil was everything I could have hoped for and Horseshoe Bay proved an excellent anchorage, being almost
landlocked. It was still dark when we arrived, but dawn wasn’t very far away and there was a kind of pale luminosity to everything in spite of the heavy rain when I went out on deck.
When I went below, Binnie and Norah Murphy were sitting on either side of the saloon table, heads together.
‘Secrets?’ I said cheerfully. ‘From me? Now I call that very naughty.’
I got the Jameson and a glass out. Norah said harshly, ‘Don’t you ever drink anything else ? I’ve heard of starting early, but this is ridiculous. At least let me get you something to eat.’