Jack Higgins – The Savage Day

‘I suppose so.’

He leaned across the desk to give me a cigarette. *You’d better fill me in on what happened on the run from Scotland.’

Which didn’t take long in the telling. When I had finished he said,’And when you got in this morning you phoned Meyer?’

‘That’s it. He told me he’d get in touch with you straight away.He asked me to be at the cottage by three-thirty.’

*Was he dead when you arrived ?*

I nodded. ‘You’ve been there ?’

He opened the bottle of White Horse and splashed more whisky into my glass. ‘I arrived at Randall Cottage at four-twenty precisely, which was the earliest I could manage. I’d told Meyer to hold you till I got there.’

‘And all you found was a butcher’s shop in hell.’

‘Exactly. I hoped you’d gone back to the boat, naturally.’

‘With the pipeline cut it seemed the only thing to do.’

“Which was why I phoned through to Captain Stacey who’s in charge here and got him to lay on a reception party for you and your friends. An elaborate device for getting us together again, but there didn’t seem any other way and time is of the essence, after all. Who were the other three at the cottage, by the way ?’

‘Some of Barry’s men. They were after the firing pins.’

‘Which explains the condition of poor old Meyer’s face.’ He nodded. ‘I see now. Did you kill them ?’

‘No, the boy took care of that department. He didn’t like what they’d done to Meyer.’

‘He’s that good?’

‘The best I ever saw with a handgun. The complete idealist. He honestly thinks you can fight this kind of a war and come out of it with clean hands.’ I swallowed my whisky and shook my head. ‘God help him, but he’s going to get one hell of a shock before he’s through.’

‘You sound as if you like him.’

‘Oh, I Jike him all right. The only trouble is that one of us will very probably end up by knocking off the other before this little affair is over.

‘There was a bad explosion in Belfast this afternoon in one of the big public offices.’

‘Many casualties ?’

‘Thirty or more. Mostly young girls from the typing pool and half of them were Catholic, there’s the irony.


The Provisional have already claimed credit, if that’s the right word. A nasty business.’

‘Binnie Gallagher would be the first to agree with you.’

Which seemed to have little or no effect on him, for he sat staring down at the desk, whistling softly to himself while he traced complicated patterns on a memo pad with a pencil.

I said, ‘Look, I’m not too happy about what you might call the security aspects of the affair. The fact that Barry and his men were waiting for us out there in Bloody Passage. The way they turned up at Meyer’s cottage just like that.’

He looked up. ‘Have you any ideas on the subject ?’

I told him about my confrontation with Norah Murphy and when I was finished he shook his head. ‘Michael Cork’s niece selling him down the river ? It doesn’t make any kind of sense.’

‘What does then?’

‘The girl’s own explanation. What I told you about IRA splinter groups at your briefing in London is absolutely true. They’re not only having a go at the British. They’re fighting each other. Each group has its own spies out, believe me. On top of that, it’s almost impossible to keep any kind of security the way things are. There isn’t a post office or shop or telephone exchange in the country that doesn’t have sympathisers working in it. Ordinary, decent people on the whole, who probably hate the violence but are willing to pass on interesting information, for all that. And then there’s always intimidation.’

He poured me another whisky and sat back, holding his glass up to the light. ‘On the whole, I’d say things are going very well. You’ve got Frank Barry and one of the most wanted terrorist squads in Ireland sniffing at your

izoThe Savage Day

heels, and as long as you stick with the girl you’ve a direct line to the Small Man himself. Do you think she knows where the bullion is ?’

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