Binnie tugged at my sleeve quickly. ‘The boat’s gone.’
He was right enough, but when we went down to the jetty itself, we found theKathleen moored at the bottom of a flight of wide stone steps on the far side.
noThe Savage Day
‘Now what in the hell would she do that for ?’ Binnie asked.
I led the way down the steps without replying. There was something wrong here, I sensed that, but in view of the time and place, it didn’t seem likely to be anything to do with Frank Barry and his merry men.
We reached the concrete landing strip at the bottom and I called, ‘Norah ? Are you there ?’
She screamed high and clear from inside the cabin, ‘Run for it, Vaughan. Run for it.’
But we were already too late. A couple of stripped-down Land-Rovers roared along the jetty in the same instant and a moment later there were at least eight paratroopers lining the jetty above us plus the same number of submachine-guns pointing in our direction. Binnie’s hand was already inside his coat and I barely had time to grab his arm before he could draw.
‘I told you before, boy, no heroics. There’s no percentage in it. There’ll be another time.’
He looked at me, eyes glazed, that strange, dazed expression on his face again, and by then they were down the steps and on to us.
They put us up against the wall and none too gently, which was only to be expected, legs astraddle for the search. The sergeant in charge found the Browning, of course, but nothing on me.
After that, we waited until someone said, ‘All right, Sergeant, turn them round.’
A young paratrooper captain was standing by the wheelhouse wearing red beret, camouflaged uniform and flak jacket, just like his men. He was holding the Browning in one hand. Norah Murphy stood beside him, her face very white.
The captain had the lazy, rather amiable face of the
When that man is dead and gone
kind of man who usually turns out to be as tough as old boots underneath. He looked me over with a sort of mild curiosity.
*You are Major Simon Vaughan?’
“That’s right, Captain.’
I laid a slight emphasis on my use of his handle which he didn’t fail to notice for he smiled faintly. ‘Your wheel-house would appear to have been in the wars, Major. Window gone, wood splintered and a couple of nine millimetre rounds embedded in one panel. Would you care to comment?’
‘It was a rough trip/ I said. ‘Or didn’t you hear the weather report?’
He shrugged. ‘Under the circumstances, I have no alternative but to take you all into custody.’
Norah Murphy said, Tm an American citizen. I demand to see my consul.’
‘At the earliest possible moment, ma’am,’ he assured her gravely.
Another vehicle turned on to the jetty and braked to a halt above us. I heard a door slam and a cheerful, familiar voice called, ‘Now then, Stacey, what’s all this? What have we got here ?’
The captain sprang to attention and gave the kind of salute that even the Guards only reserve for very senior officers as the Brigadier came down the steps resplendent in camouflaged uniform, flak jacket and dark blue beret, a Browning in the holster on his right hip, a swagger stick in his left hand.
In happier times Stramore had only needed one constable, which meant that the local police post was a tiny affair. Little more than an office and single cell which from the look of it had been constructed to accommodate all the local drunks at the same time. It was clean enough, with green-painted brick walls, four iron cot beds and a single narrow window, heavily barred as was to be expected.
The door was unlocked by the police constable and Captain Stacey led the way in. Tm sorry we can’t offer separate accommodation in your case, Dr Murphy,’ he said. ‘But it won’t be for long. Tonight at the most. I would anticipate moving you first thing in the morning.’
Norah Murphy said calmly, ‘I’m not going anywhere till I hear from the American consul.’