Jack Higgins – The Savage Day

It was raining again now and I could smell the sea although I couldn’t see it. For a moment I saw the waters of Horseshoe Bay, grey in the dawn light. It would be cold down there and lonely with only a dead ship waiting…

The Celt in me again.I shivered involuntarily in spite of myself and the door opened behind me. As I turned, Binnie was pushed into the room. He was dressed in a pair of faded jeans, an old roll-neck sweater, but still wore the paratroop boots.

I said, ‘Where have they been keeping you?’

‘Down in the cellar with the old Brigadier.’

‘He’s still in one piece, then ?’

‘As far as I could see. What’s all this about, Major?’

‘I’m supposed to leave for Magil in theKathleen just before dawn with Dooley and one of his cronies to keep me company. It seemed to me more than likely they’d put

me over the side when I’d done the necessary so I told Barry I wouldn’t go unless you went with me.’

‘And he agreed? Why?’

‘A couple of reasons. One, he wanted to keep me happy – for the time being, that is.’

‘And two?’

‘He’s probably decided Dooley might just as well take care of you at the same time as he disposes of me.’

There was still that sense of strain about him, the skin too tightly drawn across the cheekbones and he was very pale, but when he spoke, his voice was calm, almost toneless.

‘And what are we going to do about it ?’

I haven’t the slightest idea because so much depends on unknown factors. Will either of us be allowed in the wheelhouse, for example?’

‘And why should that be so important?’

I told him about the secret flap under the chart-room table. “Whatever happens,’ I went on, ‘if you see the slightest chance of grabbing one of those guns, take it. They’re both silenced, by the way.’

But for once, technical detail, even when concerned with his favourite subject, failed to interest him. ‘And what if they keep us out of the wheelhouse entirely ? What if we don’t get anywhere near those guns ?’

‘All right,’ I said. ‘Let’s say I come up from the wreck twice. As I go down for the third time, you create a diversion of some sort. I’ll surface on the other side of the boat and I’ll try to board and get into the wheelhouse undetected.’

He thought about it for quite some time and then nodded slowly, ‘I don’t suppose we have a great deal of choice, do we, Major? And afterwards?’

‘Now you are running ahead of the game. There may

be no afterwards anyway. On the other hand, there is one interesting thing I’ve noticed. The ranks of the Sons of Erin seem to be thinning rapidly. Since weVe been back I’ve only seen Dooley and four other men. Even if one supposes another watching Norah’s door, it still makes the odds bearable.’

His face seemed paler than ever, at the mention of her name, I suppose, and the eyes seemed to recede into the sockets. ‘Have you seen her again ?’ he asked.

I shook my head. ‘No.’

‘Did you see her face, Major, the spirit in her broken utterly?’ His hands tightened over the brass rail at the end of the bed. ‘By Christ, but I will have the eyes out of his head for doing that to her.’

From the look on his face, I’d say he meant every word of it.

The tiny harbour in the inlet below Spanish Head was reached by a metalled road that zig-zagged down the side of the cliff in a reasonably hair-raising way. We were taken down in the back of the Ford truck and when it stopped, we got out to find ourselves on a long stone jetty. The cliffs towered above us on either hand and from that vantage point, it was impossible to see anything of Spanish Head.

At the far end of the inlet there was a massive boathouse which I presumed contained the MTB, although I could not be sure as the great wooden doors were dosed. TheKathleen was tied up at the bottom of a flight of stone steps and Dooley pushed us down in front of him.

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