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By Sarah Hapgood

Adam was fully occupied. When he wasn't cooking for the Indigo-ites, washing Lonts's nappies, visiting the Tearfuls, and catering for Julian's demands, he spent every spare moment he had on his painting. Having had his kit retrieved from Wolf Castle, he was now able to indulge his passion whenever he wanted, and Toondor Lanpin wasn't short of subject matter. He painted everything, from the decaying buildings, to the myriad boats on the waterfront, to the bare-breasted brown-skinned girls who cooked ready-made meals and served them from their barges. He went to the little theatre and sketched the chubby chorus-girls, both on stage and backstage, feeling like Talouse Latrec as he did so. And always he found time to paint Lonts. Apart from when he was having a full-scale tantrum, Lonts could never look anything but beautiful, mysterious and full of pathos. He was the perfect artist's model, the muse.

There had been a brief upsurge of bad feeling when Lonts had finally told Adam about the blonde woman he had seen in the brothel. Adam had taken it badly for a while, that Lonts and Julian had kept this from him for so long. But when he saw how unhappy his hurt feelings were making everyone else he conceded that they had kept it quiet for the best of reasons.

"We'll leave her where she is for the time being", said Julian "The way things are in the City it'll be much for the best. We can always go back to Zilligot Bay without informing the Ministry sometime, and find out who she really is".

"Perhaps she's the real Vanquisher of Evil", said Kieran "The blonde hair and blue eyes all seems to fit. They just got the sex wrong that's all".

"You've been a remarkably good imposter then", said Adam.

"It's all done with mirrors", said Kieran, with a deliberate attempt to be cryptic.

This spring afternoon everything was as it normally was on the Indigo. Tamaz was in his cage, and everyone else was going about their separate tasks. Hillyard was making a door for the saloon, sawing off the end of it on the forward deck, with Lonts and Toppy leaning across it to stabilise it. Finia was sunbathing on the roof of the quarterdeck in his bikini. Julian was telling the Tearfuls that their thuggish five-year-old son, whom no one could control at all, really just needed a sound thrashing. Adam had given up warning him to tone down his "good advice", and had to simply rely on everyone to accept him as harmless.

Joby dipped a bucket into the water and hurled it in the direction of Tamaz's cage. This happened on a daily basis, with Joby producing the drenching at different times so that Tamaz wouldn't get too used to them.

"Joby, you really shouldn't do that", said Adam, who was in the middle of painting flowers onto the enamel coffee-pot, to give it a barge furniture look "He doesn't have much of a life".

"Yes he does!" said Joby "He lounges around in there all day, earwigging on everyone's conversations. Lies there like the Queen of Sheba whilst we take his food into him and change his bucket. He has a wonderful life!"

Tamaz was now sobbing and hanging up his bedding to dry in the hot sunshine. He was used to doing this every day, thanks to Joby's unorthodox showers, and it was normally dry within the hour.

At sunset most of the Indigo-ites went below for supper. Kieran and Joby stayed on the forward deck for a little while, and the sound of soft jazz music from the wind-up gramophone wafted up to them, along with the murmur and exclamations of various voices.

"All a bit different to how we came into this world", said Joby, leaning on the bulwark and watching the lamps come on in the various barges around them.

"Adam was saying earlier that it's all been worthwhile, the past twenty years", said Kieran "We can't ask for more than that".

"We won't let anyone ruin it now", said Joby "We've got each other. There are women back amongst us, and we're all together".

"I believe we're really home at last", said Kieran "Where we were always meant to be".

He and Joby linked hands and went below to the join the rest of the Indigo-ites.


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