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By Sarah Hapgood

“I sometimes think we could open a hotel”, said Adam, who was making a lunch of bread of cheese in the kitchen at the top of the island “We have the ability”.

“Yeah and we might actually get paid for that”, said Joby, leaning against the wall near the door “I could imagine you running a hotel”.

“Well perhaps a little guest-house somewhere”.

“In Brighton probably”.

“And I would serve endless different types of fresh fruit for breakfast”, said Adam “A whole buffet display of it”.

“Can’t imagine that going down well with this lot”, said Joby.

“We should be doing something with this place”, Julian shouted, coming in through the main door.

“Like what?” Joby shouted back.

“Making it a little more homely”, said Julian, crossing the main room towards them “It has plenty of potential”.

“Well chop to it, Julian”, said Adam “You are the interior designer after all”.

“There scarcely seems much point if we’re not planning on staying here”, said Julian, leaning against the door-jamb “Bardin refuses to move any more stuff up from the galleon”.

“And you’re letting Bardin dictate things?” said Adam, sarcastically “The Father Superior must be losing his touch”.

“More likely that he has a valid point”, said Julian “If we need to abandon the island in a hurry we can’t afford to be rushing around the entire place trying to snatch everything up at the last minute”.

“And so this is the stage we’re at”, said Adam “Where we live permanently expecting a crisis to happen. It never used to be like this”.

“That’s the way the world’s gone”, said Joby.

“Oh rubbish”, said Adam “We lived through plenty of bad times before. Look at Father Gabriel’s reign of terror. That was probably even more frightening than this time, and yet it didn’t stop us making a home on the desert island”.

“We didn’t have much choice at the time”, Joby pointed out “We were shipwrecked”.

“Well where are we going to after this?” said Adam “I have a marked aversion to going back to the mainland, at least until things calm down a bit, neither am I keen on the idea of heading to the New Continent. I doubt we’ll find many places better than this”.

“Bardin’s not still on about his guidebooks is he?” said Joby.

“No he seems to have quietly dropped that idea”, said Julian “The clowns want to spend a night up here, having some kind of apocalyptic clowns’ get-together”.

“Oh good”, said Joby “We might get some peace and quiet on the galleon”.

“If he likes it”, said Julian “It might persuade Bardin to calm down, and consider this place more long-term. You might get your garden, Joby”.

“I’ll believe that when I see it!” said Joby.

“Are we finally going to come to a decision about staying here for a while?” said Rumble, who was rolling a cigarette in the main room of the island’s cottage.

Although it was a chilly evening, the door was propped open, and the clowns wandered in and out willy-nilly.

“The reason I ask”, Rumble continued “Is that we could do something with this place”.

“Yes I know!” Bardin shouted, from the doorway “We’ve already established that, stop regurgitating the same old script all the time!”

“Ok Ok”, said Rumble “I didn’t realise we’d finally come to a firm decision. I’m having trouble keeping up with it all. Some of us have been busy doing night-guard duty y’know”.

“My heart bleeds”, said Bengo “Some of us are on our feet in the galley all day”.

“Pack it in”, said Bardin “I’m not used to thinking of staying in one area long term anymore, it takes a different way of thinking, a change of tack”.

Suddenly an old wireless, which had been sitting disused and silent on a nearby shelf, activated itself. The light came on around the dial, and a song began to crackle out over the airwaves. The clowns stood facing it in disbelief. The song was an old ballad, moving and softly intense, sung in perfect harmony by a handful of men. After a couple of minutes the song slowly faded again, and the light around the dial dissipated. The wireless was silent once more.

“Oh my God”, Bengo breathed.

“That wireless was broken wasn’t it, Bard man?” asked Farnol.

“Well Ransey’s examined it pretty thoroughly since we came here”, said Bardin “And he said it’s long been out of action”.

Rumble approached the wireless cautiously, as if it was about to spring into life again. He looked at it carefully.

“Should we take it back down to the ship with us?” he said.

“No”, said Bardin “Leave it here. It belongs in the cottage. It’s all part of the magic of this place”.

The following morning, when they returned to the galleon, Bengo tried to remember as much of the song as he could, and sang the snatches of words to Adam and Joby in the galley, as they were preparing breakfast.

“Are The Stars Out Tonight / I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright”, he sang “And all about I Only Have Eyes For You, oh it was so beautiful. One of the loveliest songs I’ve ever heard”.

“That’s an old one”, said Joby.

“You’ve heard it before?” Bengo exclaimed.

“Not for years”, said Joby “Not since our time, and it was old back then. It was one of my Nan’s favourites”.

“I know the one you mean”, said Adam “It is lovely. How wonderful you got to hear it, Bengo”.

“As soon as Ransey hears about it he’ll be taking the wireless apart”, said Joby “Trying to figure out what’s going on with it”.

“No he won’t”, said Bengo “I don’t think Bardin will let him. He’s right, it is part of the magic of the island, and we have to respect it. Oh I’m so glad I heard it! It was perfect, the whole moment”.

“Bengo’s been acting blissed out ever since he heard it”, Joby said later, when he was strolling with Hillyard and Kieran at the top of the afternoon “Anyone’d think he’d just discovered Love for the first time. He couldn’t get over it when I said I’d heard it back in our time”.

“Well if that’s the sort of thing we can expect on this island”, said Hillyard “Then I’m up for it. It might be nice to have some pleasant types of randomness for a change. It wasn’t your doing was it Kieran?”

“No it wasn’t”, Kieran chuckled.

“Just you were looking a bit preoccupied there”, said Hillyard.

“I was thinking I wouldn’t mind having a go at doing some cooking in the wee kitchen here”, Kieran gestured behind him at the small cottage.

“YOU?!” Joby exclaimed “Cooking?! Your cooking’s even worse than Hillyard’s, and that’s saying something!”

“Joby, you’re judging me on an omelette I made centuries ago”, said Kieran “For all you know I might have improved incredibly since then”.

“So somehow you’ve managed to improve without doing any cooking at all?” said Joby “Only an Irishman would come out with logic like that!”

“Oh give him a chance, Grump Arse”, said Hillyard “If he wants to have a go at a bit of cooking let him”.

“Probably end up burning down the cottage”, said Joby.

“No I won’t, that’s an outrageous thing to say!” said Kieran “Ask Adam, I’ll bet he’ll let me”.

“Course he will!” said Joby “He can’t refuse you anything, he’s as soft as they come”.

“What are you going to make, Kieran?” said Hillyard.

“Fairy cakes”, said Kieran.

“Figures”, said Joby. Bardin joined Kieran in the cottage baking session, after Adam had given them a crash course in how to operate the old stove.

“Joby seems convinced we’ll burn the house down”, said Kieran.

“Wouldn’t matter if we did”, said Bardin “It’s practically falling down anyway”.

“Ah now that’s not respecting the island”, said Kieran “Did you get the same flak from Bengo for doing this, as I did from Joby?”

“No, more along the lines of ‘I’m not coming anywhere near you whilst you’re doing that, Bardy, you’ll be too bossy’. He’s such a wuss sometimes. He makes such a song and dance about cooking sometimes, I wanted to show him any old fool can do it. He and Joby probably see us as impinging on their great talents. Joby might start preaching, doing your job, as revenge”.

“I think Joby could make quite a good priest”, said Kieran “His brusqueness can be quite comforting”.

“Bengo would be bloody useless as Captain”, said Bardin “The other clowns would never do anything, just keep spinning him sob stories and he’d let them off everything. Nothing would get done”.

Bardin strolled over to the doorway, which led into the main room of the cottage, and stared across at the old wireless, sitting silently on the shelf on the far wall.

“I wonder what that was all about”, he said.

“Sometimes we should just accept magic as a sign from God”, said Kieran.

“As long as it was that, and not a sign from something else”.

“The beautiful effect it had on you all suggests it was a good thing”.

At the back of the cottage Adam had been feeding the chickens. For a few hours during daylight hours the hens were brought up to the top of the island so that they could roam freely. He was scattering household scraps on the rough grass when Hillyard suddenly bounded up.

“Where’s Bardin?” he panted.

“In the kitchen with Patsy I expect”, said Adam “What’s the matter, Hillyard? Has something happened?”

“Come in with me whilst I tell ‘em”, said Hillyard, grabbing him by the elbow.

They went in through the old scullery.

“Listen up”, said Hillyard, when he reached the connecting doorway “Ransey wants you back down on the galleon. We’ve had a wireless message from Cloris”.

“What’s happened?” said Bardin.

“Ransey’ll explain back down on the ship”, said Hillyard “He says he wants you down there in case she contacts again very soon”.

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