Jack Higgins – The Savage Day

I arranged to meet Norah Murphy and Binnie in the

local pub after I’d reported to the harbourmaster, which was only an excuse for I had something much more important to do.

I found a telephone-box up a back street and dialled the number Meyer had given me. It was somehow surprising to hear the receiver picked up at the other end almost instantly, to hear the familiar voice, Al Bowlly belting outEverything I have is yours in the background.

‘Randall Cottage. Mr Berger here.’

‘Mr Berger ?’ I said. ‘You asked me to contact you the moment I got in about that consignment I was handling for you.’

‘Ah, yes,’ he said. ‘Everything all right?’

‘I’m afraid not. Another carrier insisted on taking over the goods en route.’

His voice didn’t even flicker. ‘That is unfortunate. I think I’ll have to contact my principal about this. Can you come to see me ?’

‘Any time you say.’

‘All right. Give me a couple of hours. I’ll expect you around three-thirty.’

The receiver clicked into place, cutting Al Bowlly dead and I left the phone-box and moved back towards the waterfront. I wondered if he would have the Brigadier there by the time I arrived. It should prove an interesting meeting, or so I told myself as I turned the corner and walked towards the pub where I’d arrangedto meet Norah and Binnie.

They were sitting in the snug by a roaring fire, a plate of meat sandwiches between them, pickles in a jar and two glasses of cold lager.

‘And what am I supposed to do? Live off my fat?’ I demanded as I sat down.

Norah reached for a small handbell and tang it and a

When that man is dead and gone

pleasant-looking, middle-aged woman appeared a moment kter with another plate of sandwiches.

*Was it the kger, sir, like the others ?’ she asked.

“That’s it,’ I said.

She brought it and disappeared. Norah Murphy said, ‘Satisfied?’

‘For the moment.’

‘And what did your friend Meyer have to say?’ I tried to look puzzled and she frowned in exasperation. ‘Oh, be your age, Vaughan. It stood out a mile why you wanted to be alone. Did you think I was born yesterday?’

TSfever that,’ I said and held up my hands. ‘All right, I surrender.’

‘So when are you seeing him?’ I told her and she frowned. ‘Why the delay?’

‘I don’t know. He’s got things to do. It’s only a couple of hours, after all, and we can reach him quickly enough. The place he’s taken is no more than ten miles from here. What about your end of things ?’

‘Oh, that’s all taken care of. I’ve been doing some telephoning too.’ She glanced at her watch. ‘In fact, I’ll have to get moving. I’m being picked up outside the schoolhouse in fifteen minutes by the local brigade commander. It was his people who were waiting for us on the beach last night. He wasn’t too pleased.’

‘I can imagine. Will you be seeing your uncle?

Tm not sure. I don’t know where he is at the moment, though I think they’ll have arranged for me to speak to him on the phone.’

I emptied my glass and Binnie picked it up without a word, went behind the bar and got me another.

Norah Murphy put a cigarette in her mouth. As I gave her a light, the match flaring in my cupped hands, I said,

looThe Savage Day

Tm surprised at you, smoking those things and you a doctor.’

She seemed puzzled, a slight frown on her face, then glanced at the cigarette and laughed, that distinctive harsh laugh of hers. ‘Oh, what the hell, Vaughan, we’ll all be dead soon enough.’

In a sense, 1 had a moment of genuine insight there, saw deeper than I had seen before certainly, but we were on dangerous ground and I had to go carefully.

I said, ‘What will you do when it’s all over?’

‘Over?’ She stared at me blankly. ‘What in the hell are you talking about?’

‘But you’re going to win, aren’t you, you and your friends ? You must believe that or there wouldn’t be any point to any of it. I simply wondered what you would do when it was all over and everything was back to normal.’

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