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By Sarah Hapgood

“Hegley’s taken in Clarissa”, said Adam, a few hours later at lunchtime “The other young people have been returned to their homes”.

“What’s happened to the shot guard?” said Mieps, who was sitting in the armchair in the cabin, having his wounds cleaned by Adam “The one Kieran shot. I heard Hillyard threatening him”.

“Only what the wretched man could expect in the form of retribution if he split on Patsy to the authorities”, said Adam “He should be damn lucky we took him to the hospital. If it wasn’t that we’ve got to go back to Starhanger soon I’d have been tempted to leave him on the front steps! According to Clarissa, he raped one of those young girls”.

Codlik came in carrying a tray of tea.

“What’s he doing?” said Ransey “He’s meant to be over at the house”.

“I like to keep busy”, said Codlik “I don’t like to feel completely useless”.

“I would have thought you should be used to that by now!” Ransey snapped.

“Ransey, please!” said Adam, pulling Mieps’s shirt back over his breasts.

“He’s spending too much time over here”, said Ransey, after Codlik had sidled out of the room again “I caught him using the heads earlier”.

“Well he has to go somewhere!” said Adam “There’s no working loo over at the house”.

“How can you do this?” said Ransey “At one point you said you wanted to kill him with your bare hands, and now you’re letting him ponce around here as though he’s the new chamber-maid!”

“Because things have moved on apace”, said Adam “After the disgusting, diabolical things that have happened at Starhanger, and to Brother Iggy, it all rather puts Codlik’s idiocy in the shade somewhat!”

Bengo had taken a bowl of coffee in to Madame de Sade, who was currently living in part of the hold. Renee-Pelagie loved seeing Bengo, her little pet, and looked forward to the tender look in his brown eyes. She had spent so much of her life being treated contemptuously by people that she almost couldn’t believe someone was actually regarding her with respect. Ironically, it had previously only been her husband who had shown her consideration, and now he was gone. Renee still couldn’t believe he had abandoned her like this. He must still be around close by, she reasoned, he would not have left her completely.

In turn Bengo was acutely aware that what Madame de Sade was currently suffering, that terrible sense of sudden rejection, was what he himself had once done to Bardin.

“Oi!” Joby yelled from the corridor “Are you gonna do any work today at all?”

“I said I wouldn’t be long, Joby”, Bengo called back.

“I’m on my own in there!” said Joby “And we’ve got more work to do than ever, what with her, and fucking Codlik, and Piers, and Josh. It’s beyond a fucking joke it is!”

“You’ll have to excuse Joby”, Bengo whispered to Madame de Sade “He’s not used to being around ladies”.

Bengo followed Joby back into the galley, where Kieran was standing stark-naked at the bottom of the stairs, washing himself all over from a bowl he had put on the bottom step.

“P-perhaps Kieran could go and talk to Madame”, said Bengo “W-when he’s ready of course. I think she needs comforting”.

“She didn’t give much comfort to her husband’s victims”, said Kieran, with uncharacteristic brusqueness.

“No, no, I suppose not”, Bengo wrung his hands wretchedly “She was always kind to us, b-but then I guess we weren’t chained up and … and …” Bengo burst into tears “Oh it’s all such a mess, it really is. You’re always saying that love is everything, well she loves Sade, and because of that she’s let evil be done, oh it’s such a mess! All her faults come from loving someone! Well Tamaz did bad things once, but it didn’t stop us loving him … oh I don’t understand any of it!”

Joby pushed Bengo onto a chair, and Kieran fanned him with a tea-towel.

“Calm yourself now”, Kieran spoke much more softly “Sometimes you seem to forget that I’m human too. I don’t think and feel in perfect ways, and sometimes I react to things only too humanly. I need time where Madame de Sade’s concerned. You’ve just said it’s all such a mess and it is. At the moment I can’t switch off from the fact that she accepted the treatment of Clarissa and those other young people, and that she must have known about Brother Iggy’s death. I do need to talk to her, but at the moment I don’t know how. Perhaps at the moment you need to do that for me”.

“Patsy, what are you doing in here with no clothes on?” said Adam, coming down the galley steps.

“I couldn’t wash in the cabin”, said Kieran “The whole world and his wife seems to be traipsing through there t the moment!”

“And it’s getting worse”, Adam sighed “The divine Mr Crowley has just turned up”.

“Oh that’s all we need”, said Joby “The neighbours dropping in now!”

“He wants to talk to you, Patsy”, said Adam.

“O.K”, Kieran went to go upstairs, but Adam pulled him back and slapped his bottom.

“Put some clothes on first!” he said.

Later that afternoon Julian wrote in his log-book:

“Possibly the last time I shall be able to write in this for a while, depending on what happens at Starhanger House when we return there tomorrow. The Great Beast has offered his services, not out of any great moral desire to combat evil (such things would be just too far-fetched!), but because he wants to see Starhanger for himself. All his life, he opined, he had been a true explorer, pushing boundaries both in the physical and the metaphysical world, blah blah blah.

Tinkerbell took the view that it would be better to have him with us where we could keep an eye on him, than him getting up to untold depravity out here! So now Crowley joins our travelling circus, along with the surfeit of brothers, Codpiece, and that daft French woman currently haunting the hold. I have no idea if Thetis the Scarlet Woman and Victor the Great God Pan will be joining us, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised!

The biggest revelation of the day though was that Crowley claimed to know nothing whatsoever about the house in the mountains above Zilligot Bay. He said the derelict shack we had seen on our way there did sound like his commune at Cefalu in Sicily, but he had never been anywhere on the west coast of this world. We pointed out his poetry books were found at the house in the mountains, and the gramophone recording of his voice, but he said anyone could have put those there, and I have to admit he’s probably right. He said that since coming to this area he has made a number of gramophone recordings of his voice, usually hamming it up as voice-overs for sex-and-horror spoofs at Silling Productions. Anyone could have taken one of them and put it in the mystery house, he said. The only reason I’m inclined to believe him at the moment is that it’s unlikely he would lie on this subject, there’s absolutely nothing he would gain from it.

And the prosaic fact is that whoever our unseen host was at that place had money, a considerable amount of money, and everything I’ve seen of Crowley in this time points to him being broke, or at best living on handouts for the grubby little bits of work he does for Silling Productions. He’s constantly cadging money and pleading poverty, one can’t have any kind of conversation with him without a presumptive demand for cash cropping up in it! And he’s exactly the same with his own followers!

Bardin has said he wants to interrogate Piers. I’ve told him not to be a silly arse, no one has every got any sense out of Piers and he won’t be any exception! Anyway, it’s becoming more and more apparent that Piers spent his entire time at Starhanger in a state of complete and utter inebriation. He didn’t sober up once! Whatever he saw there was seen through an even bigger haze than usual!”

After writing in the log-book Julian went for a prowl round the sloop. Up on the forward deck he was furious to find Piers swigging liberally from a bottle of whisky, without even the use of a glass. Julian went to the top of the galley steps and demanded Adam’s presence immediately.

“What is it, Jules?” Adam sighed “We are hellishly busy at the moment, and I could do without you bellowing like an enraged bullock!”

“I’ll slap you in a minute!” said Julian “What’s Piers doing with out booze?”

“It keeps him quiet”, said Adam “And anything that keeps him out of my hair at the moment is perfectly fine by me!”

“Well who’s paying for it?” Julian demanded to know.

“You are, dear!” was Adam’s parting-shot.

Julian stamped over to Piers.

“Having a good time are we?” he snapped.

“As much as one can around here”, was Piers’s slurry response “Our Mother used to say that when people start accepting homosexuality then society is breaking down”.

On top of everything else that was going on Julian had no intention of accepting Piers’s homophobic rants, or the wit and wisdom of “Our Mother”. He snatched the bottle from Piers and poured some of it over his brother’s head. Piers squealed like a girl.

“And Our Mother was probably a dyke!” Julian roared, and then bore the bottle off to the cabin.

“Outrageous!” said Piers.

Joby thumped past carrying a bucket of provisions destined for Josh.

“A wicked, wicked thing to say!” Piers went on.

Joby refused to comment. He took the bucket over to Indigo Towers and dumped it by Josh’s camp-bed in the hall.

“And you can shut up as well”, he said to Josh.

“I haven’t said anything!” Josh protested, who had been reading a comic.

“It’s just in case you do!” said Joby.

He walked round the outside of the house. Kieran was standing in the doorway of the kitchen, talking to Toppy, who was scrubbing the Ghoomer bloodstains out of Ransey’s trousers. Nearby, Codlik was trimming the wild grass at the side of the lane with a pair of long-handled shears.

“And what’s he doing now?” Joby asked, jerking his thumb at Codlik.

“A spot of gardening by the looks of things”, said Kieran.

“This place is a fucking mad-house!” said Joby “A fucking loony-bin!”

“Don’t worry”, said Kieran “We’re going to be in an even worse one tomorrow!”

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