Jack Higgins – The Savage Day

‘Later,’ I said. ‘After I’ve had a good four hours’ sleep you can wake me with another of those bacon sandwiches of yours.’

I moved towards the aft cabin and she said angrily, ‘For God’s sake, Vaughan, cut out the funny stuff. We’ve got to decide what to do.’

‘What about?’ I said, and poured myself a large Jameson which for some reason, probably the time of day as she had so kindly pointed out, tasted foul.

‘The guns,’ she said. ‘What else? You are the most infuriating man I’ve ever met.’

‘All right,’ I said. ‘If you want to talk, let’s talk, although I would have thought it simple enough. You’ll want to get in touch with your Small Man to see about another consignment and I can assure you the price has gone up after last night’s little fracas. The Royal Navy and ten years inside is one thing, but your friend Barry and his bloody Sons of Erin are quite another.’

She glanced at me, white-faced. ‘How much?’

‘A subject for discussion.’ I poured myself another drink. ‘On theotherhand, maybe you don’thave the funds.’

*We have the funds,’ she said.

I tossed back the whiskey, most of which, like the previous one, had actually gone down the leg of my left gumboot, and tried to sound slightly tight when I laughed.

‘I just bet you have.’ I poured another drink, spilling a little. ‘Maybe we’ll ask for gold this time. Something solid to hang on to in this changing world of ours.’

Binnie’s hand went inside his coat where the Browning once more safely nestled and Norah Murphy said fiercely, ‘What in the hell are you getting at ?’

‘Oh, come off it, angel,’ I said. ‘I know the Small Man was behind that bullion raid on the Glasgow mail boat. Word gets around. How much did he get away with? Half a million, or were they exaggerating ?’

They both sat there staring at me and I got to my feet. ‘Anyway, you go and see your uncle when we get in and I’ll have a word with Meyer. We’ll sort something out, you’ll see. Can I go to bed now ?’

She sat there staring at me and I moved towards the aft cabin, chuckling away to myself. When I reached the door I said, ‘You know it really is very funny, whichever way you look at it. I’d love to see Frank Barry’s face when he checks those sub-machine-guns and the Lahtis and finds the firing pins are missing.’

Her hands tightened on the edge of the table and there was a look of incredulity on her face. “What are you talking about?’ she whispered.

‘Oh, didn’t I tell you ?’ I said. ‘Meyer’s got them. One of those little tricks of the trade we find useful, life being such a cruel hard business on occasion, especially in our game.’

There was a look of unholy joy on Binnie’s face and he slammed a hand down hard across the table. ‘By Christ,

Major Vaughan, but you’re the man for me. For God’s sake take the oath and join us and we’ll have the entire thing under wraps in six months.’

‘Sorry, old lad,’ I said. ‘I don’t take sides, not any more. Ask the good doctor, she’ll tell you.’

And then Norah Murphy did the most incredible thing. She started to laugh helplessly, which was so unexpected that I closed the cabin door and actually poured myself a whiskey which I drank. Then I lay down on one of the bunks and, as is usual with the wicked and depraved of this world, was plunged at once into a deep and refreshing sleep.


When that man is dead and gone

We came into Stramore just after noon. It was still raining, but the mist had cleared and according to the forecast brighter weather was on the way. Stramore was little more than a village really, the sort of place which had lived off the fish for years and was now doing better out of weekend yachtsmen.

Except for the side window missing in the wheelhouse and the odd chip where a bullet had splintered the woodwork, we showed little sign of the skirmish with Barry and his men. We anchored off the main jetty and used the dinghy to go ashore.

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