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The ripping out of the wireless set seemed to have a profound effect on the Indigo-ites. Over the next few days it became clear that Adam and Cloris’s plan for a unified island was not going to work. Mainly because, on the galleon side, it was only Adam who was acquiescent with this idea.
Things came to a head when Bardin shouted at Adam below deck that he was “acting worse than Kieran” and slammed into his cabin. Bengo had witnessed this little scene like a member of the audience at an aggressive tennis-match.
“You agree with him don’t you?” said Adam, as they both went into the galley.
“How do you know that?” asked Bengo.
“Because you didn’t instantly snap at Bardin”, said Adam “So I can tell you really agree with him. Be honest with me, Bengo, I know I can rely on you for that”.
“None of us really want to stay on this island, Adam”, said Bengo “We don’t see any harm in being on the next island. It scarcely makes us a million miles away. We can soon get over here if Cloris has any problems. We think she’s being unreasonable, making out we’re running away to the ends of the Earth, when we’re not. We don’t want to live in their pockets, and that’s the way of it. We can’t be all self-sacrificing like you and Kieran would be”.
“Good heavens, I’ve never thought of myself as self-sacrificing before!” said Adam “I didn’t think I had it in me!”
“And Joby’s been complaining”, Bengo went on.
“Well there’s news”.
“He said he and Mutton went to all the trouble of creating a vegetable garden for them, and now he wants to get on with creating one for us, and do you expect us to live off tinned vegetables for evermore, and …”
“Yes yes yes I get the message”, said Adam “I think you should go and reassure Bardin that everything’s going to be alright. I don’t want him chewing my ear off. Tell him I honestly didn’t forsee it was going to be such a problem”.
“That island is a very short distance away”, said Bardin “I’ve never seen what all the damn problem is about. All we’re asking for, certainly all I’M asking for is a bit of privacy for fuck’s sake!”
“Yes alright, I think we’re all agreed at last”, said Bengo “Stop going on, and don’t go hurling insults at Adam again”.
“I did not hurl insults at him”, said Bardin “I merely pointed out that he was acting worse than Kieran, unless that counts as an insult”.
“Well it could be worse, it could be acting worse than you, except that’s not possible!”
“Ha ha”, said Bardin “Inform the others what we’re doing, and I shall expect scenes of extreme relief and jubilation, and nothing less. In the meantime, I shall tell Cloris that we’re going over to the next island, which of course is a VAST distance away, as Adam cannot be trusted with such a task”.
“I knew this would happen, I knew you wouldn’t agree to it”, said Cloris, meeting Bardin in the grassy area outside the island’s cottage.
“Can I just point out that emotional blackmail will not work on me”, said Bardin “You can get Adam that way, but not me. There will be no cuddling on the chaise-longue between us”.
“Goddamnit, why would I!” Cloris exclaimed “Look, I understand. You’re right, the island isn’t very far away”.
“And we will come instantly you need any help with anything”, said Bardin “You have my solemn word on that”.
“You can’t blame me for trying”, said Cloris “I have the others to think about, and they have been through so much. They feel cut adrift in this mad world”.
“You have each other, and it is down to you all to form a fresh start”, said Bardin “I know you’re all fed up with being herded around the world from one sanctuary to another, but frankly, WE have had that all along. The best we’ve ever been able to hope for is that occasionally we find somewhere we can pitch up for a while, like Midnight Castle at the Bay, or the Town House at Toondor Lanpin. Nothing lasts forever. Not any place. But that’s not what matters, it’s having each other that matters. If I’ve got the others, I can live anywhere, and I’m sure it’s the same for you”.
Cloris nodded, and turned away, feeling the tears coming into her eyes.
“Cloris”, said Julian, appearing from the direction of the path which led down to the landing area “I hope this fiend hasn’t been upsetting you”.
“No, not at all”, said Cloris, drying her eyes and feeling embarrassed.
“Well of course it would be my fault wouldn’t it!” said Bardin.
“Tact and diplomacy are not your strong point, Bardin”, said Julian “We all know that”.
“Whereas Adam oozes tact and diplomacy, and look what a mess that landed us in!” said Bardin.
“Alright alright, pipe down, both of you”, said Cloris “The matter is settled. Shouldn’t you be getting over to the other island and exploring your new home?”
“Yes, we’d better get that done before nightfall”, said Bardin “At some point I think we should work out a sort of beacon-style signal, so that we can let each know if there are any problems, particularly as we’re now without a wireless, thanks to Ransey!”
“That seems the best idea”, said Cloris.
“One last thing”, said Bardin “This island has a habit of suddenly springing surprises. Some will be fine, but others, like that doorway appearing over there, may need to be treated with a bit more caution”.
“We understand that”, said Cloris “The same will no doubt apply to your new home”.
“Mm, we’re not sure what to expect there yet”, said Bardin.
Bengo stood at the bottom of the path which led up from the base of the second island to the top. It was hard for him to conceal his dismay.
“It’s very steep”, he said.
“No it’s not”, said Bardin “Your problem is you’re unfit, you’re not used to exercise. You spend too much time in the galley thinking about food”.
Hillyard, who had been nearby examining a metal hand-rail which bordered the pathway, looked over at the clowns. He could see that Bengo was very tense, to the extent that he was clasping and unclasping his hands.
“Bardin”, said Hillyard “Why don’t you put a sock in it, mate”.
This at least had the effect of sending Bardin into a state of numbed silence. This - miraculously - continued all the way up to the top of the island, where they found a circle of grassland ringed by wind-blown trees, and what seemed to be the meagre remains of a wall.
“At least this will be good for grazing the animals”, said Bengo.
Bardin grunted in reply.
Later that day, when they had all returned to the galleon, Hillyard sought out Bardin in his cabin. He found Bardin preparing to have a wash.
“Sorry to interrupt, Bard”, said Hillyard “But I wanted to apologise for earlier. I didn’t mean to cause an atmosphere, you know”.
“You didn’t”, said Bardin “I’ve been with Bengo so long now that I think he’ll put up with anything. I don’t realise how harsh I sound at times. I didn’t even realised I’d snapped at him!”
“I’m sure he’ll survive”, said Hillyard “It’s just I could sense something wasn’t right with you I suppose”.
“The truth is I’m not happy with this island”, said Bardin “It feels like a second-rate version of the one we’ve left. I know that one had its little quirks, but we had managed to make a life there. I can’t help feeling we’ve been too self-sacrificing, and I’m not cut out to be a carbon copy of Kieran! We’ve let concern for Cloris and the rest of the yacht crew overwhelm everything. We can’t seem to cut free from them. I mean this place can do for a little while, but I can’t see us staying here long-term. It feels claustrophobic for one thing”.
“I know what you mean”, said Hillyard.
“We have to move on, that’s the top and bottom of it”, said Bardin “And we can’t whilst we’ve got that lot hanging round our necks! We are pilgrims, Hillyard, we’re meant to be out exploring the world, and here we are now, in some kind of bloody granny annexe, keeping an eye on that lot!”
“When it’s time to move on, we will”, said Hillyard, clamping a hand on Bardin’s bare shoulder.
“I damn well hope so, because this place is NOTHING, just nothing, it’s a bit of glorified grazing-land and that’s it. Like trying to build a life on a pin-head in the middle of the ocean”.
“I think we should all have a night together in the Saloon”, said Hillyard “And see how the next few days go”.
There was a brief knock on the door, and a shirts-sleeved Toppy walked in, carrying a bucket of peat.
“One thing about this island, Captain”, he said, setting the bucket down on the hearth-rug “We won’t be short of fuel for the fires”.
“Goodo”, said Bardin.
“The crazy thing was there was I busily lecturing Cloris about how I could live anywhere as long as I had you lot”, said Bardin, taking off his trousers in the galley, and draping them over the back of a chair “And the next thing I know I complain about being stuck on a pinhead in the middle of the ocean!”
“I think we did all grow quite attached to ‘hy brasil’, more than perhaps we realised”, said Adam, the only other person in the room “It is a smashing little island, with the cottage and everything, and … well I’ll be honest with you, Bardin, I do think it’s a shame we had to leave it, but we couldn’t all stay on it”.
“Sometimes I’m starting to think we should have sent them here, and we stayed over there!” said Bardin “I don’t understand why we were being so generous, it must be Kieran’s doing. He’s got a lot to answer for!”
“Who knows, perhaps they will all decide to move on at some point, and then we can go back”.
“Don’t hold your breath on that one”.
From the dining-room could be heard the sound of Umbert tinkling out an other-worldly tune on the piano.
“What is that piece?” asked Bardin “It sounds so mysterious, do you recognise it?”
“Yes”, said Adam “It was by a composer called Satie, one of his gnossieme’s, I think. It is amazing. I didn’t realise Umbert knew it. His musical knowledge always astonishes me”.
“Was he from your time, this Satie guy I mean?”
“No, from before us, but his music was very well-known. It seems so fitting for this evening”.
He wrapped his arms around Bardin, and ran his hand through his hair. Bardin responded like a cat being stroke, and nuzzled further into his embrace.
“Oh Bardin”, said Adam “You glorious creature”.
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