By Sarah Hapgood

“But why can’t you stay here?” Hannah complained, pursuing Adam into the galley “It’s a Sanctuary! God knows what’s lurking out there in the rest of the world. The refugees have told us such horror tales, Adam”.

“And I can well believe them”, Adam replied “We are ready for anything, old love, as much as we ever can be anyway”.

“You’re deliberately going to look for even more horror?” Hannah exclaimed “After all that there’s been already?”

She began to cry. Adam sat her down on the chair by the stove and handed her a tea-towel to wipe her face on.

“It’s because the horror isn’t over”, he said “Not by a long way. We might have defeated Crowley and the demons at the Big House, but that was only the start, not the ending unfortunately. Everything else is a mess. You don’t need me to tell you that. Glynis is staying here anyway”.

“Yes that’s something”, she gulped “She and Jonathan have become so fond of each other in such a short space of time. It’s nice to know there is still room for love somewhere in this crazy world”.

“Hopefully there always will be”, said Adam “Otherwise the Evil really will have won. And Cloris, Jane and the rest of the yacht crew will be staying too. You won’t be short of company. Darling Hannah, please understand. Bardin ….”

“Oh yes, it’s all down to him isn’t it”, said Hannah “That man is so damn restless all the time. He keeps pacing around. Whenever I speak to him he always looks startled at me, as if he’s never seen me before”.

“That’s Bardin”, Adam chuckled “When he has the bit between his teeth, he can be a little terror”.

“Don’t get me wrong, I shall miss him too”, said Hannah “Lord Robert was organising a fishing-party yesterday, to dive into the lake …”

“Well at least he seems to be shaking off his depression at last”, said Adam.

“He was organising dives”, Hannah exclaimed “And hadn’t asked me! I am an extremely strong swimmer. I’ve lived by the lake all my life, and it didn’t occur to him to ask me! Bardin wouldn’t have made that mistake. I’ve noticed that with him. He always knows what people’s strengths are, and allocates jobs accordingly”.

“Yes, Bardin’s very shrewd at sussing out people’s talents”, said Adam “That must be his training in the theatre I guess. But anyway Hannah, you don’t exactly need Lord Robert’s permission to go fishing”.

“No, but I would still have liked him to have actually acknowledged my strengths”, Hannah went on.

They were interrupted by a kerfuffle of voices outside the galley door. Bengo marched in and dumped a basket of apples on the table. Hoowie was ranting something at him. Bengo contemptuously kicked the door shut on him.

“What was that all about?” asked Adam.

“Oh he’s moaning because Bardin’s put him on heads cleaning again”, said Bengo “As if I can do anything about it!”

Adam laughed.

“Sorry”, he said “It’s that I was just telling Hannah how Bardin is always so good at knowing people’s talents”.

“Well he certainly got it right with that one!” said Bengo, jerking his thumb in Hoowie’s general direction.

“Don’t worry about Hannah”, said Joby, when he and Adam were sharing a post-lunch cup of tea up on deck a couple of hours later “Kieran’s gonna do a little church service over there this afternoon. They’ll all be glad to be shot of us after that”.

“Is he Blessing the Sanctuary, just in case?” said Adam.

“That’s the idea”.

Adam gazed over at the nearby shore. It all looked very idyllic in the sunshine. Kieran and Umbert were strolling about the lawn like a pair of Medieval monks, deep in meditative contemplation. A large tent had been set up in the middle of the grass as a general communal meeting area.

“Will it be a wrench to leave here?” said Adam “I can’t decide”.

“Not for me”, said Joby “Not now Lord Robert’s getting his mojo back. I know you’re gonna say we should be pleased about that. But I think he’s got a bloody cheek. He’s expecting to take up the reins again as though nothing’s happened, as if he never took to his bed and had a bleedin’ nervous breakdown!”

“Well between you and me I did prefer it when Cloris was in charge over there”, said Adam “I have a vague feeling of unease that he’ll try and take over this Sanctuary as his personal fiefdom. Another Fire Island. I can’t see Bardin going along with that one quietly”.

“Never mind him, I won’t go along with it quietly!” said Joby “It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve crossed swords with that old sod. He’s worse than Julian sometimes”.

“Oh surely not!” said Adam “Looks as if we’d better get you out of here soon”.

Hannah and Jonathan appeared on the galleon later, wheeling two bicycles which they had unearthed from the transport treasure trove which was one of their outbuildings.

“We haven’t ridden these for years”, said Jonathan, after HIllyard had helped them to carry them below deck “You never know, they might come in useful on your travels”.

“Won’t you need them though?” said Adam.

“No, we’re going to use our sail-boat more in the future”, said Jonathan “Take it out around the lakes. See fi we can pick up anymore survivors”.

“I haven’t ridden one of these in years”, said Joby, grabbing one of the bikes. He set off in a wobbly fashion, riding it around the dining-room.

“Well they say you never forget how”, said Adam.

He thanked Hannah and Jonathan again, and realised how fond he’d become of them. They could both be a bit needy and feathery, but Adam put that down to them having spent most of their lives in loneliness out here in the boondocks. He turned to hug them both.

“Oh but are you sure … ?” Hannah began.

“I know what you’re going to say, old love”, said Adam “And I’m afraid we really do have to go. If we find out anything of dire importance, we will either return to tell you, or wireless Lord Robert’s yacht. We won’t keep you in the dark about it”.

“Likewise”, said Hannah.

“You’ll be so busy with all your new guests”, said Adam “You probably won’t notice we’ve gone”.

“I know this is a silly question”, said Hillyard, appearing at the dining-room door “But what’s Joby doing riding a bike round and round the dining-room table?”

That night Glynis, Jonathan and Hannah were invited over for a final supper. The decision was unanimously taken not to invite the crew of Lord Robert’s yacht. It was felt they would rather dominate proceedings, and the Indigo-ites wanted a more low-key affair.

“It’s time to move on from that lot”, Bardin had said beforehand “I feel they’re a chapter that’s over now”.

It turned out to be a very mellow evening, which was just what was required. At one point Glynis followed Adam out into the corridor, and they chatted at the foot of the quarterdeck steps.

“I shall ask you for the last time”, said Glynis “You are really set on going?”

“It’s not been an easy decision”, said Adam “Particularly as we’ve just met up with you again after so long, but I do feel you will be happy here”.

“Frankly, anywhere is better than Toondor Lanpin had become”, said Glynis “But yes, they are a decent crowd here”.

“Don’t let Lord Robert push you around”, said Adam “He had everything his own way on Fire Island, and he does seem to think he can just pick up where he left off before he had his funny little turn. And that’s not acceptable”.

“It would take a lot more than him to push me around these days”, said Glynis “What is it about the Snow Lake area that is drawing you so? I’ve been told that it’s beautiful, but so are a lot of places, including here”.

“Pure nosiness I think. Plus we need to find out the state of things in the rest of the world, and then we can report back to you”.

“Well I hope you do”.

“Of course we will”, said Adam, gently seizing her hands “We will try and keep in touch as much as wen via the wireless, and we WILL return here. Bardin is going to give you some maps, so if there are any problems you can come and follow us”.

Bardin gave the order for them to pull out in the early hours of the morning. He knew that if they left it until a more civilised hour that there would be yet more mawkish kerfuffle, and he wanted to be away.

“We’ll end up having endless farewell scenes if we’re not careful”, he grumbled to Bengo “It’ll become a farce, we’ll never get away”.

“We shall just quietly glide away”, said Adam, romantically.

They made good headway that first day, returning back to the ocean, and anchoring far from the coast. Bardin had the long route back to Snow Lake so well mapped out that he had put a diagram of it all over one wall of the dining-room, much to Adam’s annoyance, as a couple of his own sketches had been unceremoniously removed to make room for it.

A nervous, but ultimately uneventful night passed at sea, and the following day they made further progress north. They reached the required river sooner than they had anticipated.

“Thank God”, said Joby “I didn’t want us ending back at that damn island again”.

“Which damn island?” said Adam.

“The one where we found the woman dead in the cage”, said Joby “With the snakes”.

“Oh good heavens, no”, said Adam “We don’t want to go back there”.

They took their tea up on deck. The weather was still mild, but as they had no idea exactly what date it was, it was hard to draw any conclusions (if there were any) from this. What was extremely noticeable was the profound silence which saturated the tree-lined river.

“A complete absence of wildlife is never a good sign”, said Adam.

“Why is that?” said Joby “I mean, why does that bother people so?”

“It means there is no life in the area”, said Adam “Animals and birds go where there’s life. If they’re not there, then it means there’s nothing to be found”.

“I expect we’re gonna come across a lot like that, Ad”, Joby sighed “Probably large chunks of the world are like it now”.

“Yes, we’re almost setting out on a sort of Domesday Book-style enterprise aren’t we?” said Adam “An inventory of the world as it is now”.

“Should be a laugh”, said Joby, dourly.

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