Jack Higgins – The Savage Day

He laughed suddenly and it was not a pleasant sound. I’ll tell you what I will guarantee.’ He grabbed Norah Murphy by the hair and yanked her head back. ‘That I’ll give her a repeat performance on the other cheek if you don’t come clean.’

He ripped the dressing away brutally and the girl cried out in pain. I caught my breath at the sight of that hideous, swollen burn.

I think Binnie went a little mad there for a moment for he flung himself at Barry, hands reaching for the throat.

Dooley moved in fast and gave him the butt of his Sterling in the back. Binnie went down on his knees and Barry booted him in the stomach.

He shoved the wretched girl back into her chair and turned to me. ‘All right, make up your mind. I haven’t got all night.’

‘There’s an island about ten miles out from here called Magil,’ I told him, ‘Cork said he sank the launch containing the gold in five or six fathoms of water in Horseshoe Bay. He said that if you wanted it, you’d have to swim for it.’

‘Well, the old bastard. The cunning old fox.’ He threw back his head and laughed uproariously. ‘Now that’s what I call very, very funny.’

‘I’m gkd you think so,’ I said. ‘Though I must say the point of the joke escapes me.’

‘Oh, you’ll see it soon enough,’ he said. ‘You see, you’re going to get that gold for me, Vaughan. After all, you’re the expert in the diving department. I’ve seen all that gear you keep on theKathleen.’

‘And afterwards?’

He spread his arms wide. 1 let you go, all of you, and no hard feelings.’

‘And what guarantee do I have that you’ll keep your promise this time?’

‘None,’ he said.. ‘None at all, but then, you don’t really have any choice in the matter, do you ?’

The final screw in the coffin, or so it seemed. I suppose it showed in my face for he laughed harshly, turned and walked out, still laughing.

They took Binnie downstairs, presumably to the cellars, and Dooley and another man escorted me up the back

stairs and locked me in the room with the dark mahogany furniture and the brass bedstead.

My suitcase was still there exactly as I had left it. It was almost like coming home. I ran a bath, got rid of the flak jacket and camouflaged uniform, wallowed in water as hot as I could bear for half an hour and tried to think things out.

It was a mess, whichever way you looked at it. Barry had gone back on his promise once. What possible hope was there that he would keep his word now ? The more I considered the matter, the more likely it appeared that once I’d raised the gold for him, he’d put me back over the side double quick with about forty pounds of old chain around my ankles.

I dried off and got a change of clothes from my suitcase. Corduroy slacks, blue flannel shirt and a sweater, then I opened the window and had a look out there.,

Barry had warned me on an earlier occasion that there was no need for bars and I could see why. There was a clear drop of fifty feet to the courtyard at the rear and the walls on either side were beautifully smooth. Not even the hint of a toehold between the stonework, no fallpipes within reaching distance, nothing.

The door opened behind me and Dooley appeared, the ever-present Sterling at the ready. He jerked his head and I took the hint and moved out past him. He was on his own, and on the way downstairs I wondered, for one wild moment, about having a go at him, missed a step deliberately and allowed myself to stumble, dropping to one knee.

My God, but he was quick, the Sterling rammed up against the back of my head on the instant. I managed a smile with some difficulty, but there was no response at all on that bleak stone face. Discretion very definitely being the

better part of valour, I gotup and continued down the stairs.

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