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“I don’t believe it”, said Joby “You’ve changed your mind again?!”
“Not completely”, said Bardin, sitting, as was his want, at the head of the dining-room table “I’ve just revised the original plan a little”.
“He likes doing things like that”, Bengo sighed.
“I don’t know what the problem is”, said Bardin “This is a far better plan”.
“I quite liked the old one”, said Joby, stubbornly.
Bardin took a deep breath and went on.
“Instead of six of us camping outside the house”, he said “We get as many of us up there as possible, leaving a skeleton crew down here to mind the ship, and fill that old mausoleum with as much light and homeliness as possible. Kieran, you must agree with me on this. You’re always saying that light drives out evil”.
“Yes I do and I agree”, said Kieran.
“That’s a big house”, said Joby “We’re gonna need a lot of light”.
This time Bardin took in an exaggerated intake of breath.
“Look somebody’s gotta point out the difficulties”, said Joby.
“WHY???” barked Bardin.
“Well normally it’s you who does that, Bardy”, said Bengo “If it’s somebody else’s idea I mean”.
“We’re getting off topic”, said Bardin “We will flood that house with light and warmth, but nobody is going to go wandering off into the cellar and the attics alone”.
“Don’t look at me”, said Bengo “I don’t go wandering off anywhere, it’s you who’s more likely to do that”.
“So when is this great Technicolour gala extravaganza going to take place?” said Julian.
“Tomorrow night”, said Bardin.
“I can’t believe the amount of dithering that goes on round here over the simplest thing”, Bardin complained, as he left the dining-room at the end of the evening.
“Yeah, and a lot of it’s done by you!” Joby retorted.
“Bardin, why don’t you go and turn in, old love”, said Adam “Joby, I think you should do the same”.
Bengo seized Bardin by his arm and dragged him into their cabin, where he proceeded to get him ready for bed.
“This is starting to feel like a strip and search”, said Bardin, lying helplessly on their bunk “You’ll be getting the rubber gloves out next!”
“Ooh!” said Bengo.
He lifted up Bardin’s legs and administered a slap on his bottom, like a doctor attending to a new-born baby, before securely tucking the bedclothes around him.
“Now shut up and relax!” Bengo ordered.
Bardin lay silently whilst Bengo got undressed and turned down the lamp.
“You’re not against the idea of staying up there are you?” said Bardin, when Bengo climbed in over him.
“Well I like our cabin here, Bardy”, said Bengo “It’s our little sanctuary”.
“When Hoowie’s not in it!” said Bardin.
“I don’t get you completely to myself nearly as much as I’d like”, Bengo continued.
“I’m hoping that will change as things settle down a bit”, said Bardin “I’ll try and delegate a bit more”.
Bengo (understandably) didn’t find that very convincing.
“No I will”, said Bardin “I miss you too during the day. Sometimes, when the other clowns are being a pain in the neck, I’d love to have you there”.
“You just summon me”, said Bengo “I’ll come and sort them out. They don’t scare me anymore. They can’t bully me the way they used to at the Cabaret”.
“I don’t like to hassle you that’s the trouble”, said Bardin “Adam works you pretty hard”.
“Well that’s the trouble with cooking”, said Bengo “It never lets up. You can never think ’oh that’s a big job out of the way, now I can have a couple of days off’. It doesn’t work that way, it’s relentless”.
“We need a B-squad”, said Bardin “Someone to step in occasionally, and give you three a break“.
“No, Adam wouldn’t like that”, said Bengo “He doesn’t really like other people mucking about in his galley”.
“They can cook up on deck then!” said Bardin.
“Do I get the impression that there was a night of tenderness in the Captain’s Boudoir then?” said Adam, as they prepared breakfast the next morning.
“Bardin probably spent half the night chewing your ear off about what an awkward sod I am”, said Joby.
“No he didn’t”, said Bengo “I put him in his place you see. I used my Voice Of Command”.
“Blimey”, said Joby.
“And it worked”, said Bengo “I wish I had done it back in my childhood. Can you imagine how different my life would have been if I had intimidated him, instead of the other way round all the time?”
“But you wouldn’t be sweet little Bengo if you had”, said Adam.
“No, you’d be a spoilt monster”, said Joby.
“And we’ve already got enough of those round here!” said Adam, hearing Julian’s voice in the background.
“The important question is”, said Joby “Has it made any difference to Bardin this morning?”
“Well he does seem marginally less stroppy than usual”, said Adam.
“We have to keep working on him”, said Bengo.
Hillyard burst in.
“Right, where’s your spare kitchen utensils you want taking up to the house?” he asked.
Adam pointed at a large cardboard box on the floor behind the door.
“All this is your spare stuff?” said Hillyard, heaving the box into his arms.
“Hillyard”, said Adam “You clearly have no appreciation of all the effort that goes into cooking”.
“We know that”, said Joby “We’ve tasted his cooking!”
“Does old Jobe have to come up to the house with us?” said Hillyard.
“Yes, unfortunately I’m rather dependent on Old Jobe”, said Adam.
“I’m indispensable you see”, said Joby.
“Put the sleeping-bags on the bed”, Bardin ordered “I’ve checked it for bugs and fleas, it’s fine”.
Bengo sighed and dumped the sleeping-bags on the bed. The tender, sweet little Bardin of the night before had been replaced by the more customary Bossy Bardin. He was ordering Bengo around like a choreographer giving stage-directions.
They were in the bedroom on the first floor at the front of the house. It contained a fireplace, a chair and side-table, plus a large bed.
“This will do, don’t you think?” said Bardin.
“It’s big”, said Bengo.
“Bengo”, Bardin sighed “All the rooms in this house are big. The only way we could have a small room would be if we went up to the attic, and I guess you don’t want that?!”
“Who lived here for fuck’s sake?” Bengo exclaimed “Giants?! Why does everything have to be on this scale? I’m gonna really miss our cosy cabin”.
“I keep telling you”, said Bardin “We’re not going to be here all the time, just now and again, to put some normal life into this monstrous old behemoth”.
He stopped and stared across at a narrow doorway in a corner of the room, which was standing slightly ajar. It led into the next bedroom behind.
“I don’t remember that door being there before, do you?” said Bardin.
“I’ve never been in this room properly before”, said Bengo “So I wouldn’t know”.
Bardin shook his head.
“It’s Joby and him obsessing about the archway on the landing”, he said “Now I’m starting to think the house is playing tricks with me as well!”
“Look, now we’re here”, said Bengo “Let’s go and explore a bit more. We might as well”.
They wandered downstairs and out of the front of the house, strolling from there round the western side, which was closest to the edge of the forest. Julian and Hoowie came strolling towards them along the ridge.
“We found some kind of old ruin there”, said Julian “I can’t decide whether it’s the remains of the old chapel, or some sort of bothy or shelter”.
“It’s got no roof!” said Hoowie, as if Bardin might suddenly decide that they were all going to live in it.
“There’s quite a well-established footpath leading through the forest towards it”, said Julian “So at one time it must have been used regularly by whoever lived here”.
“Which suggests it may have been a chapel”, said Bardin “God help us, Kieran will want to use it!”
“We can try and keep it from him”, Julian sighed “Unfortunately I know that’s forlorn hope. The little sod has an annoying habit of finding things out!”
At this particular moment though Kieran was distracted in the dining-room. Hillyard had found a box of note-cards stored at the bottom of the one of the bedroom closets. The cards were old and wrinkled and had to be handled with some considerable care. Each card featured a pencil-drawn sketch, depicting an angry or depressed-looking face.
“Horrible”, said Hillyard “I’m glad Adam doesn’t draw things like that!”
“These have been done by a very unhappy person”, said Kieran “Look at the violence of the pencil-strokes, they’re almost stabbing the card”.
As Lonts was standing nearby, he didn’t want to add that Adam might have drawn things like this when he first knew him, in those far-off days back in their own time.
“Were they people who lived here, Kieran?” Lonts asked.
“I don’t know”, said Kieran “But I suppose it seems most likely”.
He turned over the cards to see if there was anything written on the back, any clue as to the identity of the angry artist. All were blank, except one, on which was written a quotation: “GOOD CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT EVIL, BUT EVIL CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT GOOD - MARCUS AURELIUS”.
“He was a great philosopher”, Kieran explained “From many hundreds of years before I was born. Often quoted”.
“He knew what he was talking about”, said Hillyard.
“Yes he did”, said Kieran, quietly replacing the cards back in the box.
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