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By Sarah Hapgood

They emerged (unscathed) through the clashing rocks and out onto a vast lake. It was bordered by large, gently sloping banks of natural red granite. The early evening sunlight glittered off the stone and the water. The Indigo-ites cheered and dropped anchor in the middle of the water. Until they got a better idea of their immediate surroundings, they judged this to be the most cautionary thing to do.

Later that evening Ransey fiddled with the wireless set, and roped in Brother Umbert to help. They occasionally picked up very faint and garbled messages which didn’t appear to make any sense, and even one fascinating moment when they heard a mention of Lebicca. This was very rare, as so far they seemed to be no closer to finding this elusive city than they had been before, and even the Fat Controller was now beginning to seem like a vague (and very unpleasant) mirage.

To celebrate emerging from that boring river, bottles of port were dug out of the hold and a fish supper was consumed. It was a jolly evening, but it didn’t descend into a mad free-for-all as the recent gin evening had done. Adam regaled them with tales he had heard in his school-days of what shipboard life had been like long ago. They had heard tales of the salted meat and the weavelly biscuits before, as he had frequently hurled that one at Julian whenever he complained about the cooking. The laundry facilities were a different matter.

“You mean they never washed their underpants?” Toppy exclaimed.

“I doubt, old love, they ever took them off from the beginning of a voyage to the end”, said Adam.

Bardin, who had an intense fastidiousness towards the care of his own undergarments, was sunk into a brown study at this information.

The morning after their euphoria at leaving the Fat Controller’s river had dissipated a little. They were now faced with the prospect of having to find another route out of the giant lake, or they would have to return down it. The thought of seeing the Fat Controller again was intolerable.

Like a series of courtyards all leading into one another, it was discovered that the lake connected with another, and that the hills surrounding this one were wooded, giving the area a less desolate feel, and a more comforting promise that they would pitch here and survive for a while if they wished.

“I don’t like it”, said Joby, surveying the view from up on deck “It reminds me of the opening scenes from ’The Exorcist’”.

“How on earth …?” said Adam, who even after all these years never ceased to be amazed by the way Joby’s mind worked sometimes.

“The scenes in the Iraqi desert”, said Joby “Where the professor sees the statue of the demon. It reminds me of that”.

“Your imagination is a constant source of wonder to me”, said Adam.

They anchored at an isolated cove, and Bardin, Hillyard, Mieps and Ransey got up a hunting-party to go ashore. Adam asked if they could take Joby with them.

“That old prophet of doom?” said Hillyard “What for?”

“I think being cooped up on ship all this time is not doing his already fevered imagination any good”, said Adam “He needs to get a bit of land exercise”.

“You’ll be suggesting we take Kieran next”, said Hillyard.

“As Patsy’s a vegetarian I rather doubt he wants to go on a hunting-trip!” said Adam.

“You’re not going to suggest we take Hoowie as well are you?” said Ransey.

“I rather think Hoowie is grounded until he can promise faithfully to behave himself”, said Adam.

“That’ll be never then!” Hillyard chuckled.

Once ashore Mieps easily found traces of small animals, and set about setting traps for them. Gradually they progressed up through the woods until they came across a wide track way. This wasn’t the only sign of one-time human habitation, there was also what appeared to be an abandoned buggy, now a rusting carcass, on the side of the track.

“Horrible”, said Joby “Like a murder scene”.

“I knew we should have left you at home”, said Hillyard “You and your bloody forebodings of doom!”

Bardin had been uncharacteristically silent on this little trip. Instead he was standing there, gazing all around him, uneasily.

“You feel it too”, Mieps suddenly said “A feeling of being watched”.

“Oh let’s get back to the galleon”, said Bardin, irritably “I could do with some coffee”.

When they got back to the ship, Adam prepared them coffee, plus tinned sardines on toast, and it was only after partaking of this that Bardin began to perk up a bit. Before setting out on the short hunting-trip, they had speculated about possibly camping for a night in the forest, as they had done in so many other places, but this idea now seemed to have been quietly dropped.

Bardin’s quiet mood continued. It was starting to seem eccentric. Bengo woke up in the middle of the night to find his partner sitting in the middle of the cabin floor, pouring over just about every map in their possession.

“Bardy, what’s all this rubbish?” said Bengo.

“I’m wondering”, said Bardin “Whether we could be back in the wild area up beyond Nuit, the area that Fabulous’ grandfather destroyed”.

“Oh don’t be silly”, said Bengo “We’re nowhere near there!”

“We could be”, said Bardin “Nowhere we travel to ever makes any logical sense, so why couldn’t it be up that way?”

“Because when we were there”, said Bengo “We never EVER heard any mention of a town called Lebicca!”

Bardin had to concede the truth of this remark, but he was still brooding on it the next day. He revoked the original plan of staying at the forest for a few days, and instead they sailed away from it, continuing on down the coastline.

They came across a densely wooded small island in the middle of the lake, which looked so dark and cramped that it seemed quite forbidding. The loneliness and silence of the whole area was getting on their collective nerves. Normally they would have relished such an isolated part of the world, and enjoyed themselves in the privacy of it, but it wasn’t easy to feel relaxed here. It was as if the unseen town of Lebicca was haunting them somehow.

Leaving the wooded area was a source of regret to them, but it had felt deeply eerie and uncomfortable. The island had felt the same. It was a relief therefore when they sailed into a third lake and came across a much bigger island, less intensely wooded than the last, and (incredibly, or so it felt after all this time) it actually had people on it.

There was a cluster of small houses around the harbour area. The Indigo-ites anchored there with some trepidation, very uncertain of what kind of reception committee they would get. Fortunately the islanders turned out to be fairly affable, and were more than happy to barter good with them. They also gave the Indigo-ites much valuable information. The island had been used originally as a location for a small monastic order, and the old monastery could still be seen at the top of the small hill which served as the backbone to the island.

“You particularly want to go up there at sunrise and sunset”, an old fisherman told Adam, sounding like an enthusiastic guide-book “It’s then that you get the sun bouncing off the old brick walls”.

“Yes, we’ll certainly bear that in mind”, said Adam, whose dormant artist’s soul was getting recharged by all this. He could see himself setting up his easel on the little quayside here, and the others could get a few of their own meals for a change.

“What happened to the monastic order then?” Brother Umbert demanded to know, in what Adam thought was an unforgivably brusque manner.

“They got recalled to Lebicca”, said the fisherman, in very much a we-don’t-like-to-talk-about-that-round-here-you-know kind of voice “Years ago. Before my time. Before anyone’s time”.

“Quite”, said Adam, hoping that Umbert wouldn’t boorishly insist on pursuing the topic. One had to be so careful when travelling in remote places not to offend the natives.

“Where is Lebicca by the way?” he asked “Is it many miles from here?”

“Oh too far”, said the fisherman “And you can only get there overland. And it’s right across miles and miles of barren country. Bleak as you can get. No good for you in your fine ship”.

He didn’t actually end up “You don’t want to go there, stay here”, but that was the overwhelming implication.

Adam made up his mind once and for all that he was going to take a short holiday whilst they were at the island, a short painting holiday in fact. He imparted this news to Joby, who was unflatteringly delighted by the idea, mainly because it would give him a chance to have Bengo under his sole command for a few days. And so it was that Adam soon became a regular feature on the small waterfront of Abbus Isle.

The island was so called because, long long ago in its monastic days, it had been called Abbots Isle. This had got steadily corrupted over the years into Abbus Isle. All small island communities can seem strangely mysterious to the outside world, because of the very nature of their insularity. But at least (going by initial appearances anyway) Abbus Isle didn’t seem hostile. The people here were affable and very laid-back.

It was difficult sometimes though to see how they survived. The freshwater lake abounded in fish, including enormous lobsters, plus shrimps, crabs and blue crayfish, but that constituted the vast bulk of the islanders’ diet. The island itself was comprised of rock and pine forest, with very little, if any, farm-land. The islanders were completely at one with the lake, it was their benefactor. Adam noticed that some of the islanders kept some rather pathetic-looking chickens, and they said they let pigs roam free, hunting in the woods, but that seemed to form the bulk of their livestock.

One morning Adam had a rather startling visitor whilst he was sketching on the shore. A four-wheeled open carriage caused a commotion by bowling onto the harbour-front. It was driven by a white-gloved man in uniform, and occupied by an extraordinary-looking woman. She must have been approaching 60 in age, and wore thick pan-stick make-up. This contrasted dramatically with the artificial jet blackness of her hair. The island was very mild in climate, but she was still muffled up in furs. The carriage drew to a leisurely stop, and she beckoned to Adam with a gloved hand.

“You are our new visitors?” she asked, in an impressive female baritone of a voice.

“That is so”, said Adam, uncertain what else to say. Did she own the island? (She certainly acted as though she did). Was she its Governor?

“It’s a very charming place”, he added, awkwardly.

“Yes, we are somewhat proud of it“, she drawled.

He noticed that she was staring past his shoulder, and he turned to see Julian pacing around on deck smoking a cigar. He was topless, wearing only a pair of tight buckskin trousers. He looked impossibly handsome in the morning sunshine, and by the look on her face the grand lady evidently thought so too.

“You must come and call on us sometime”, she eventually said, and then, without waiting for a reply, ordered her ’chauffeur’ to drive on.

All very well, thought Adam, but not a word as to who she was or where she lived! Carrying on like royalty, he thought, feeling rather nettled.

“Who was that lady?” he asked a fisherman, who had been mending a net nearby.

“Don’t you know?” he said, in genuine astonishment.

“I’m new here”, Adam pointed out.

“Lady Pegotty”, the man said “She’s the Governor’s wife. They live in the house up on the hill”.

He gestured behind him. Adam glimpsed a row of windows peering out through the trees of the pine woods.

“I had a feeling she must be someone like that”, said Adam.

Joby had heard about the size of the freshwater lobster to be found in the waters hereabouts (they were said to be over a metre in length), and ordinarily would have despatched Mieps and Hillyard out in the skiff with some nets to see if they could get some. But he knew that this was precisely the sort of action that could cause instant alienation, and probably outright hostility, in a small community like this, so instead he and Bengo took a couple of large wicker baskets and went browsing in the small open-air market in the village.

Whilst they were there, Lady Pegotty, in her carriage, turned up again. This wasn’t so unusual, as Pegotty usually did a drive round the village in the mornings. This time she called over Joby and Bengo, and instantly a shine to the little clown.

“Such beautiful brown eyes”, she enthused.

Bengo smiled and gurgled in all the right places, but such flowery phrases didn’t make any real impact on him. As someone who had been reared in the theatre, he knew that for some people this was as everyday speak as “how d’you do?” There was no real currency in it. He had also got Pegotty’s measure as soon as he had first clapped eyes on her. She was the leading lady around here, and by Jove she knew it too.

“Are you enjoying your stay here”, she asked.

“Yes”, Joby mumbled, wishing she would go away. She made him feel like a clumsy schoolboy, and he wanted to get on with his marketing.

“Who is that extraordinary-looking creature?” Pegotty suddenly demanded to know.

Joby and Bengo looked behind them, and with a dual groan of dismay saw Hoowie sauntering about between the stalls, completely on his own, with nobody supervising him.

“He’s one of ours“, said Bengo “It’s alright, he’s quite harmless … most of the time anyway”.

“He should have his keeper with him though”, and Joby marched over to take Hoowie into custody.

“Hey!” he shouted at Hoowie “What are you doing ashore on your own?”

“I’m not in detention”, said Hoowie, sulkily “Julian was talking to Hilyard so …”

“So you thought you’d act like a big kid and wandering off in a strop”, said Joby, and he shoved his basket at him “You can hold that whilst I order our supper. First, we’d better rescue Bengo before Her Ladyship adds him to her harem!”

“She’s a real diva isn’t she?” Bengo giggled, when he had been rescued “That’s how Bardy would be if he was a woman”.

“He’s almost there anyway”, said Joby “Just needs Kieran to give him a bosom sometime that’s all”.

“Would you like that?” Hoowie asked Bengo.

“One more thing to play with”, Bengo shrugged “Like rolling the dough around when we’re making bread rolls!”

On their way back to the ship, they were watched with some peevishness by Adam, who had heard about Joby’s grand plan to cook freshwater lobster for their supper, and was feeling put out by this show of supreme culinary efficiency.

“You do know how long to boil the hen lobsters for?” he shouted after them as they passed.

Joby grumbled something in reply.

Kieran protested at the boiling of the lobsters, calling it ‘the slaughter of the innocents’. Joby barred him from the galley (in spite of the fact that Kieran had been hired as tea-maker, whilst Adam’s holiday was in progress), and added that if Kieran carried on in this fashion he would be barred from the dining-room at supper-time too.

“I might bring you a bowl of gruel in your cabin later”, Joby shouted after him.

“Poor Kieran”, said Bengo “It must be awful to have such high principles”.

“He’s bought it entirely on himself”, said Joby “No one to blame but himself”.

Kieran did up eating alone in his cabin (although Joby relented and gave him scrambled egg and tomatoes, not gruel). After supper, where the lobsters had been acknowledged as an unqualified success by everyone else, tea laced with white rum was served, and Joby took a cup along for Kieran. Before Kieran had a chance to drink it though Joby gave him a spanking for giving him a hard time about the lobsters.

“I wish to God I could fatten you up a bit and put some flesh on your backside”, said Joby, pinching Kieran’s pancake-flat trouser-clad bottom “There’s never anything to get hold of!”

“You seem to manage alright just the same”, Kieran laughed, and he reluctantly got up from his favourite position over Joby’s knees.

“Will you come out on a little excursion with me tomorrow”, he went on “Up to the old monastery?”

“Oh, you want the company of the lobster killer now do you?” said Joby.

“Forgiveness is all, don’t you think?” said Kieran, coyly.

“Yeah alright, I’ll come”, said Joby “Though it’s probably not fair to leave Bengo on his own”.

“Bring him as well”, said Kieran “Let the others fend for themselves for a change. It won’t do them any harm”.

Bardin was asked if he wanted to go with them too, and to Bengo’s surprise he refused. He was in a strangely mopey mood, and after Bengo had left with Kieran, Joby, Tamaz, Ransey and Hillyard on their little excursion, he hung about the ship like a lost soul.

He hung around his cabin, until he got fed up with listening to Umbert shouting at Digby in the dining-room next door. He went and sat out on the gang-plank, looking like a wood-sprite with his small slender body, until he got fed up with being stared at by various people on the waterfront. He went for a short walk around the harbour.

“Tell me to bugger off if you want to be on your own”, said Rumble, joining him.

“No I’m not bothered”, said Bardin “When are that lot coming back [meaning Bengo, Kieran and Co]? How long does it take to look round an old ruin for God’s sake?”

“Depends on the size of the old ruin I suppose”, said Rumble “What’s the matter? Is this island getting on your wick?”

“I’m bored”, said Bardin “For ages now I’ve been dreaming of us finding an island to set upon for a while, and now we’re here …”

“Is that because it’s inhabited?” said Rumble.

“Yes I think so”, said Bardin “They keep staring at us all the time”.

“Well I guess they’re not used to many visitors round here”, said Rumble “We’re a novelty act”.

“Yeah well I don’t feel like performing”, said Bardin, grumpily “I want peace and seclusion”.

“Something’ll come up”, said Rumble “It always does”.

And it was coming up right at that moment, unbeknown to them. Kieran was completely intoxicated by the abbey ruins. Separated from the main populated hub of the island by a couple of miles of dense woodland, it was an atmospheric, peaceful spot. The ruins themselves were extensive, and in varying states of disrepair. Some parts were still roofed, whereas others - such as the main staircase - were completely exposed to the elements. Birds nested all over the place, and their sudden eruptions into flight added the only real noise to the area.

Kieran wandered around part of it by himself, and in what once must have been the long corridor to the chapel, he saw a procession of ghostly monks in pale yellow robes, carrying candles. He took this peaceful image as a welcome sign.

“He’ll want to live here”, said Tamaz to Bengo, both of them were sitting in the long grass outside “You’ll see”.

“There are worse places”, said Bengo “There’s an old pier down below, the monks must have used it for their fishing expeditions, we could moor the galleon there”.

“We must find out who’s responsible for this place“, said Kieran, when they all met up in the monks’ old graveyard “And ask them if we can stay here. We might be lucky, and no one actually owns it”.

“I doubt it”, said Ransey, feeling that some sort of brake must be put on Kieran’s reckless enthusiasm.

“Well someone’ll have to go up to see the Governor and put it to him”, said Kieran, who was completely fired up at the thought of being a latter-day St Columba on his very own Isle of Iona.

“It has to be Bardin’s decision”, said Ransey, sternly.

“Oh Bardy will agree to it”, said Bengo “If I tell him to”.

“You sure about that?” said Joby, dubiously.

“Yes”, said Bengo “I’ve been getting a lot firmer with him lately, and I’m really enjoying it”.

“Julian might want a say in it as well though”, said Hillyard.

“Julian won’t care where he lives”, snapped Ransey “As long as he still has constant access to Hoowie’s backside! We can’t rely on any commonsense from him!”

“What do you want commonsense for?” said Kieran “This place is perfect for us!”

“Except the island’s already inhabited”, Hilyard pointed out “Perhaps it would be better to go back to that wooded one we passed nearby”.

“That one?” Joby shuddered “Gave me the creeps that one did. We’d be better off here”.

Adam was desperate for a sign (ANY sign) that Joby was struggling in the galley. He would look up from his self-enforced painting holiday on the waterfront and hope to see Joby running down the gangplank towards him, looking flustered and anxious. Adam knew full well that Joby rarely looked flustered and anxious. When things went badly fro him he was more inclined to bear a disgruntled expression of “I-knew-this-shit-was-gonna-happen”, but Adam hoped for it just the same.

It would appear that life in the galley was flourishing though. The lobster supper had been a huge success, and the others were clamouring for a repeat performance. It wasn’t just these little one-off festive occasions that went with clockwork efficiency under Joby’s command, the day-to-day running of the galley was thriving too. Gallingly, it seemed to be more relaxed under Joby’s rule. By chance, Adam had looked in at the end of an afternoon and had seen that Toppy had not only cleaned the place thoroughly, but had laid out all the utensils on the table that Joby would need to prepare the evening meal.

Ransey had told him that he should be pleased that this was a sign of how well he had trained Joby, and rationally, Adam knew this was true, but irrationally, he had trouble coping with it.

It didn’t really help matters that none of the others showed much interest in his painting (not unless he was doing a nude study anyway). Julian had taken to facetiously addressing him as “Pablo”, but this was guaranteed to raise only annoyance in Adam. Adam came to the miserable conclusion that he was far more of a cook than he would ever be an artist. He was missing being a cook, and resenting the fact that someone else was doing so well at it.

He wondered when would be a good time to raise the issue of taking up his old duties again. He had hoped that today would be a good day for it, but it seemed that everybody else was distracted by the thought of moving to the old monastery, and a plan of action had to be instigated whereby they got quick and immediate access to the Governor.

When Lady Pegotty’s carriage was spotted in the market-place, Bengo (with his seductive brown eyes) was ruthlessly sent out to accost her. A dinner invitation was secured for that very evening. They had agreed on 6 as being a nice number of guest for a dinner-party, and so Bardin decreed that he, Bengo, Hillyard, Ransey, Joby and Kieran were to do the honours. There was some consternation on the galleon about the wisdom of Kieran being a member of the party, but the consensus was finally agreed that they could hardly keep him in mothballs forever.

“And we put on our best clothes”, Bardin ordered “We must try and make a good impression.

“It’ll take more ’en best clothes to do that!” said Joby.

In his cabin, early that evening, Bengo put on is best waistcoat and was appalled to find the buttons straining across his stomach. His portly misery was deepened when he saw how trim, elegant and dignified Bardin looked in his get-up.

“You’ve done this on purpose”, Bengo pouted “You know I look rubbish in formal clothes. It’s your revenge for all the years you thought you were ugly!”

“Don’t be a prat, Bengo”, said Bardin “We’re supposed to make a good impression. Fat chance of that if you turn up for dinner at their house in your shorts and vest!”

Bardin reached over to pick up his comb, and beneath his posh trousers his starchy shorts creaked audibly. Bengo suddenly had a highly alluring image of Bardin, with his shirt, tie, waistcoat, socks, and highly polished shoes all neatly in place, but his trousers missing. He knew that this sexy image would haunt him all evening.

“What’s the matter now?” said Bardin, cutting into this enjoyable reverie “You seem to have gone into a fug”.

“When we get home”, said Bengo “I’m going to pin you down and rip your trousers off”.

“Glory be!” said Bardin.

The Gvoernor’s House, up overlooking the main village on the island, signalled that the first family of Abbus Isle had once known wealth, but had since fallen on leaner times. The things they possessed were of good quality, but were falling into dilapidation, and had never been replaced or repaired.

Much the same could be said of the Governor himself. In his younger days he must have been devilishly handsome, but now in his 50s, his jet black hair owed its colour to the dye bottle, and the lines on his face indicated someone who had known his share of sorrow and disappointment. The Indigo-ites were intrigued to find that he possessed similar puppy-dog brown eyes to Bengo, which made Lady Pegotty’s fascination with them all the more interesting.

The main reception room, where they were to dine and generally socialise, had a striking fresco running all around the walls depicting the island’s annual fishing gala, which was held in the Spring.

“We dare not ever paint over it”, said Pegotty “I doubt the islanders would ever forgive us. They virtually regard it as public property”.

“Not that we ever would anyway”, said the Governor, who was increasingly coming across as a somewhat nervous man.

Lady Pegotty expressed disappointment that Julian wasn’t among the dinner-guests, but she consoled herself with Bengo’s brown eyes and Hillyard’s robust handsomeness. Kieran’s fragile beauty was clearly too ethereal for her tastes, but, like the consummate hostess she was, she treated him with the deference she felt was due to some kind of spiritual guru. Her chief deference was reserved for Bardin though, who responded by acting in full imperious Captain Bardin of the Indigo Galleon mode. Fortunately, Lady Pegotty thought this was only right and proper. She thought that people in positions of authority SHOULD act haughty. Bengo might itch to kick Bardin in the pants when he was acting like this, but Pegotty fully approved.

The meal was served by a rather serious-faced young woman, and this set the tone for the whole meal which was conducted in an atmosphere of grave formality. Bardin was seated at one end of the table, directly facing the Governor, who looked like a funeral director with his black sash of office draped across his shirt front. The food was awful. Simply awful. Overcooked flabby omelettes and chick-peas followed by stewed prunes. Joby couldn’t help thinking of the torrent of complaints and grizzling he would get if he dished all this up at home, but here, common civility ensured that everyone forked it down in a state of grim endurance.

The conversation which accompanied the meal was equally joyless. The Governor and Pegotty showed polite interest in their travels, but it was no more than that. This household, depressingly, seemed to live its life on strict lines of formality, with very little in the way of deviation allowed. It was beyond belief to the Indigo-ites how anyone, whatever their status in life, could choose to live this way.

After the meal the Governor, who was aware that they wanted to discuss business with him, invited Ransey, Bardin and Hillyard into his library, leaving the other 3 with Pegotty. The library was cosier than the main reception room, with deep, comfortable chairs, and a chess set already set up for its next game.

“Do you play?” the Governor asked, hopefully, when Ransey complimented him on it.

“All the time”, said Ransey, thinking of the day-long chess tournaments he and Hillyard had busied themselves with whilst they were keeping watch in the streets on ‘The New Continent’.

“You must come and give ma game sometime”, said the Governor “Not many play it around here. I’m sometimes reduced t playing against myself”.

They got onto the business in hand, and the Governor seemed almost relieved by their inquiry about the old monastery, as though he had been expecting something far worse.

“Nobody actually owns it anymore”, he said “It belongs to the island I suppose. There’s nothing to stop anyone setting up home there, if they so desire it”.

“And you don’t mind us staying on the island?” said Ransey, with a distinct note of disbelief in his voice.

“I would rather you stayed there than went to Lebicca”, said the Governor “I always try and dissuade what few visitors we have from going to Lebicca”.

“Why?” said Hillyard.

“Well it’s a difficult place to get to anyway”, said the Governor “Landlocked, so no approach by sea. But it’s not just that. I come from Lebicca originally. I grew up there. In those days it was a lovely place. The sun shining on the white-painted buildings, the women in their brightly-coloured dresses. But since then there have been a succession of bad regimes, first there were the religious fundamentalists. They went around banning things, bringing back heresy trials that sort of thing. That was bad enough, but then there was a military coup, and the place was put in the hands of corrupt officials”.

“We’ve already met one of them”, said Ransey, and he related their recent experiences with the Fat Controller.

“If it’s any comfort to you”, said the Governor “He would not have told the town about you. All he was interested in was your bribe”.

“So if we hadn’t bribed him we’d still be sitting there?” Hillyard exclaimed.

“At least it means the town doesn’t yet know about Kieran”, said Ransey.

“And they won’t hear about him from me”, said the Governor “There is no risk he’ll insist on going there is there?”

“Nah”, said Hillyard “We’ll tie him up if needs be. We’ve done that before”.

“What’s Lebicca like now?” said Bardin.

“In ruins mainly”, said the Governor, bluntly “Buildings shot to pieces, people maimed roaming the streets. This regime has bled the town dry. We live in daily terror that we might get recalled there”. They returned to the others soon after this, and found Kieran had been put into a large throne-like chair next to the empty fireplace, and was looking none too pleased about it. It was with some relief that they heard Lady Pegotty remarking on the lateness of the hour (it was half-past 9 actually), and everyone gratefully took their leave.

Back home on the Indigo once more, Bengo celebrated by keeping his promise of ripping Bardin’s trousers off. Rumble then confiscated them. A late supper was held in the dining-room to compensate them for the unsatisfactory one they had had at the Governor’s House, and partly to celebrate the onset of their new life at the old monastery. Bardin’s trousers were hung from an old lamp-fitting near the table, and honoured as their mascot.

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