I climbed in beside Binnie. 1 think this would be as good a time as any to get out of here.’
The skin was drawn tightly over his cheekbones so that his face was skull-like and it was as if Death himself stared out at me when he turned.
‘I didn’t look,’ he said. ‘I couldn’t. Is he dead?’
‘Drive on, Binnie,’ I told him gently. ‘There’s a good lad.’
‘Oh my God,’ he said, and as he drove away his eyes were wet and I do not think it was from the smoke alone.
May You Die in Ireland
We turned in through the gate leading to the private road to Spanish Head at about ten minutes to six. The final part of the run had proved completely uneventful, for although we had run across two more road blocks near Coleraine, we had been waved through without the slightest hesitation.
It had stopped raining for the moment although there was a dampness to the air that seemed to indicate there was more to come and heavy grey clouds out to sea crowded in towards a horizon that was touched with a weird orange glow.
The house seemed dark and sombre, waiting for us at the edge of the cliff in the pale evening light, and there was no sign of life at all as we rolled into the courtyard and braked to a halt.
So here we were again at the final dangerous edge of things. I lit a cigarette and turned to Binnie. ‘We made it.’
‘So it would appear, Major.’ He rested his forehead on the steering-wheel as if suddenly very weary.
There was a slight eerie creaking as the garage door eased open. I said softly, ‘Don’t let’s do anything drastic. It’s Vaughan and Binnie Gallagher.’
I turned slowly and found Dooley and three of his chums standing line abreast, each man covering us with a sub-machine-gun.
When we went into the drawing-room on the first floor, Frank Barry was standing with his back to the fire, a glass of brandy in one hand. He looked us over with obvious amusement.
‘My, my, but this is one for the book. I’ve never seen you so well dressed, Binnie. You should wear it all the time.’
Binnie said quietly, *Where’s Norah ?*
“You can see her when I’m good and ready. Now, what didCork have to say?’
‘You heard him,’ I said. ‘First Norah, then we talk.’
I think that for a moment there he was going to argue about it, but instead he shrugged and nodded to Dooley, who went into the next room. He returned leading Norah by the arm. She looked pale and ill and her cheek was covered by a padded dressing held in place by surgical tape. She seemed stunned at the sight of Binnie and tried to take a step towards us. Frank Barry pulled her back and shoved her down into a chair.
‘All right,’ he said. ‘What about Cork?’
‘He died earlier this afternoon,’ I said simply.
Barry stared at me, thunderstruck. ‘You’re lying. I would have heard. It would have been on the news. He’s too important.’
‘He was shot during a struggle with a British soldier near Plumbridge,’ I said. ‘Binnie and I took him to a convent hospital just across the Border into the Republic.’
‘You know the place,’ Binnie said. ‘Gleragh.’
Barry glanced at him briefly, then turned back to me. ‘Go on.’
“They operated, he died, it’s as simple as that, but before he went, he told me what you wanted to know.’
I turned to Norah Murphy, who sat gazing fixedly at me, the eyes dark and tragic in that ravaged face.
‘He said he didn’t want you on his conscience, too, Norah, when he died.’
She buried her face in her hands and Barry said impatiently, ‘Come on, old lad, out with it. Where is the stuff?’
‘Not so fast,’ I said. ‘You gave us a promise. You said you’d free us all if we got you the information you wanted. What guarantee do we have that you intend to keep your word ?’
He stood there staring at me, a slight fixed frown on bis face. ‘Guarantee ?’ he said.