Go back to previous chapter
The next few days passed quietly. The usual exchange of supplies were made. Adam was surprised to find they didn’t need any help, mainly because he didn’t see how anyone could survive without eggs. “If you’ve got eggs you can make a meal out of anything”, was one of his favourite sayings in the galley.
In fact, once he’d visited Harriet in her kitchen, he was at a loss to see how they survived at all.
“I mean, they’ve got all the little frills and furbelows”, he told Joby, when he got back to the galleon “That pristine white sitting-room, and the sherry served in the crystal glasses, but otherwise …”
“They must have SOMETHING”, said Joby “Don’t tell me we’ve got another bunch of vampires on our hands”.
“No”, said Adam “I don’t believe that for one moment. They have a little kitchen garden as such, but it doesn’t look very impressive to be honest”.
“Well I hope we’re not staying here long”, said Joby “I don’t see any point. Let’s just offload Beatrix and move on. This is a heaven-sent opportunity. They say they’ll take in anybody”.
Julian emerged from the heads. As he was walking past Kieran and Joby’s cabin door he saw Kieran staring intently into the shaving-mirror.
“Julian!” he called out “Come and have a look at this!”
“What do I need to come and look at your reflection for?” said Julian “I can see you anytime”.
“Just come and have a look at this”, said Kieran.
Julian sighed and went over to him. He peered into the shaving-mirror which Kieran was holding at an angle.
“Yes it’s you”, said Julian “What a surprise”.
Kieran peered again at the mirror.
“I don’t look any different”, he exclaimed.
“Kieran, if this is some new Irish whimsy to drive us all mad …” Julian began.
“No look”, Kieran explained “When I looked in it just now I was an old man. A very old man. Long white hair, wrinkles, weatherbeaten face … fock me, I looked like Gandalf!”
“Oh something’s playing tricks again”, said Julian “You’re not worried about it are you?”
“No, I have confidence in us”, said Kieran, putting down the mirror “But it’s going to be an almighty drag if we’re going to get shocks like that every five minutes”.
“It’s probably just Angel”, said Julian “He was always jealous of you being prettier than him. Anyway, stop worrying about it. Isn’t vanity supposed to be a terrible, terrible sin?”
Kieran stuck his tongue out at him.
Garston - the man in the lilac suit - had insisted that his visitors treat his house as their own. In spite of this reckless generosity, Adam insisted that anyone going over to the house had to be on their best behaviour.
“What does that mean?” Bardin exclaimed “What do you think we’re going to do, smash the place up?!”
“Well I hope not”, said Adam “No I mean poking into things, and abusing his hospitality”.
“That’s a bleedin’ insult!” said Joby.
“And as for poking into things”, said Bardin “You might want to keep an eye on Toppy. He’s obsessed with their glassware! If we’re not careful, he’ll move in over there just so he can spend Eternity being mesmerised by it!”
“I can’t imagine Toppy will leave us after all these years”, said Adam “Although I wouldn’t blame him, with the way you clowns treat him at times”.
“Aren’t you supposed to be taking eggs over to Harriet?” said Bardin.
“Yes alright I’m just going”, said Adam “You bossy little madam”.
The kitchen up at the house was in sharp contrast to the pristine white sitting-room. If that room had been sheer elegance, the kitchen was decay. The stove looked antiquated even to Adam, who was used to the primitive stove on the galleon. Everything in the kitchen was old and worn, from the battered wooden cupboards to the threadbare tea-towels hanging from the indoor washing-line.
Harriet seemed oblivious to it all, or perhaps she had been there for so long she simply didn’t see it anymore. Behind the scenes, she seemed to be permanently busy, constantly coasting from table to sink, to stove, to cupboards. Something Adam knew all too well. He knew better than to try and sympathise with her though. The one time he had tried she had given a pained smile and refused to continue the conversation.
“Oh that air looks strange again out there”, she said.
“Yes it’s very cloudy”, said Adam “And an odd musky scent”.
“It’s a toxic cloud”, she said “We sometimes get them here. They blow over from inland. Perhaps we should have warned you about them. They’re not very pleasant to be out in. It can affect the breathing”.
“I see”, said Adam, going over to the back window “How long does it usually last for?”
“A few hours”, said Harriet “I’ve got to go and do some things in the cellar. Can I leave you alone here?”
“Of course”, said Adam, noting that Harriet usually wanted to leave the room when conversation broke away from food or washing-flakes.
After she had gone, Adam wandered into the dining-room next door, where he found Toppy washing some china horse ornaments in a bowl of soap and water.
“Goodness knows when these were last cleaned”, said Toppy “Sometimes I think they only clean the sitting-room”.
“I think Bardin is worried you might find your services more appreciated over here”, said Adam.
“Then the Captain is being very silly”, said Toppy. He was about so say something else when a young man came down the stairs, smiled at them, and then crossed the hallway to the front door.
Adam had noticed him before. What was most striking about him was that he was completely hairless, and he always walked around in bare feet, no matter what the weather.
“I was talking to him earlier”, said Toppy “He escaped from the City about ten years ago, when he was a child. He said children were disappearing all over the place, and he ran away from the children’s home where he lived”.
“Does he know what happened to the children who vanished?” said Adam.
“He suspects the Ministry were abducting them”, said Toppy.
“Very likely influenced by Crowley no doubt”, Adam sighed “Hence again, why Angel was so keen to help us”.
He helped Toppy to finish washing the ornaments, and then they strolled outside. The young man with the bare feet was now sitting on a grassy mound at the front of the house, his face turned to the sky, communing with nature. Adam and Toppy crept discreetly passed him, and returned to the ship.
Cloris had the awkward job of escorting Beatrix over to the house. It wasn’t clear until the last moment if Cat Woman would leave as well, but to everyone’s relief she did. Only Wesley now remained of the original Cave4.
When the deed was done, Cloris came back to the galleon, and had a cup of tea with Adam on the main deck.
“It’s a bit blustery up here”, said Adam “It would be much cosier below”.
“I don’t want to bump into Bardin”, said Cloris “I couldn’t cope with him as well today”.
“Oh dear”, said Adam “You mustn’t let him get under your skin, old love. His bark is far worse than his bite you know”.
“Does he have to be quite so sharp all the time?” said Cloris.
“I’m afraid it does tend to be his usual means of communicating”, he said “Bardin feels he has to take the load for everything on his shoulders. He never had a proper childhood. He had to take a lot of responsibility at a young age, and he’s too used to bossing the other clowns about. But once we’re underway again, we’ll try and get him to be a bit more reasonable. I want you to feel you can come over here anytime”.
“Well I don’t know how you’re going to make more reasonable”, Cloris sighed.
“Oh we have our ways”, said Adam.
Go forward to next chapter
Return to Erebus home page