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By Sarah Hapgood

After breakfast, whilst Bardin took the “juniors” down to the boat-house, Kieran went down into the cellar with Thetis to test the door. It was still firmly wedged into place. Kieran couldn’t conceal his disappointment.

“I thought even Angel might have seen the sense in what I was saying”, he raged “I’m so damn mad! Why can’t the dark forces do something positive even when it’s in their very best interests to do so! I hope you’re taking all this on-board?”

“What do you mean?” said Thetis.

“Well, knocking around with Crowley like you do”, said Kieran “You’ve probably got it into your head that you want the Devil’s baby, or some such eejit nonsense. Well I can tell you now not to bother! You won’t get anywhere with him!”

He stormed towards the lift. Thetis pursued him, and could barely contain her own rage during the short ride up to the ground floor. When the doors opened near the stairs Joby was found waiting for them, with his hands in his pockets. Thetis clouted Kieran round the head with her handbag before thundering up the stairs to her room.

“What was all that about?” said Joby “What have you been doing to her down there?”

“I might have known you’d side with her”, said Kieran “I notice you two are getting a wee bit cosy on the quiet”.

Joby began to go upstairs himself.

“Where are you going?” said Kieran.

“To have a lie-down”, said Joby “In me own room, before you start!”

“I’ll join you”, said Kieran.

“Thought you might somehow”, said Joby.

Adam found Julian in the big hall, aimlessly batting a tennis ball against the floor with a racket.

“The others are back from the boat-house”, said Adam.

“That was quick”, said Julian.

“Bengo and Freaky got a bit spooked by it”, said Adam “Nothing actually happened, but I think they sensed the lake has been used for … well for disposal purposes let’s say”.

Sade started yelling from the front room.

“He keeps doing that”, said Julian “Where’s the wife?”

“With the divine Mr Crowley I expect”, said Adam.

He went into the room, followed by Julian. Sade, loosely manacled to the bed, was yelling like a monstrous baby.

“If it is not too much trouble”, he snarled “I would like a glass of wine”.

“You’ll have to wait til lunchtime when we all have one”, said Adam.

“I will need more than one glass to get down that pap you English call food!” said Sade.

“You really know how to win friends and influence people don’t you?” said Adam “No wonder your wife chooses to spend all her time with another man! Come along Jules, I can only take this little squirt in very small doses”.

“I’ve been talking to Piers, believe it or not”, said Julian, when they were back in the hall.

“Oh Jules, how sweet!” Adam purred.

“Don’t start”, said Julian “He seemed to be relatively sober for once, so I thought I’d better seize the opportunity whilst it was there. Find out exactly what he got up to here”.

“And?” said Adam.

“From what I can gather”, said Julian “Sade kept him supplied with a steady stream of young women, who were there to dine with him and keep him entertained, in whichever way they saw fit”.

“Sounds rather tame to me”, said Adam “What on earth was Sade getting out of that?”

“He regarded it as good experience for them”, said Julian “A bit like training Geisha girls. It was to educate them in how to please men. It sounds hard to believe I know, but he thought Piers might be able to instruct them in the finer points of cultured living!”

“Good grief!” said Adam “It would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic!”

Hillyard crossed the hall, carrying a basket of freshly-cut logs.

“Where are you going with that?” said Adam.

“Back living-room”, said Hillyard.

Adam went with him and found Madame de Sade in there, attempting to read a book but seemingly more interested in eyeing up Hillayrd, who was putting logs on the fire.

“He is such a good-looking man isn’t he?” she said to Adam.

“Yes”, said Adam “Although a bit fat if you ask me!”

“I’ll pull your nipple-rings if you’re not careful”, said Hillyard, before leaving the room again, to Madame de Sade’s obvious disappointment.

“He is so lusty”, she added.

“Really, I’m quite shocked at you!” Adam teased her.

“Oh you English are so reserved”, said Madame de Sade.

“Yes, we’re models of decorum aren’t we!” said Adam.

“In France the ladies openly admire a good-looking man as much as a man admires an attractive woman”, said Madame.

“I have no problem with that”, said Adam, having met plenty of Englishwomen who “admired” rather more robustly “But before getting into Hillyard’s pants could you sort your husband out? He’s driving us all mad with his petulant demands. Can’t you give him a slap to quieten him down?”

“I couldn’t do that!” said Madame “A woman of my background would never dream of striking her husband like some common fish-wife! Anyway, I am meeting Monsieur Crowley for a game of cards”.

“You seem to be getting on very well with him”, said Adam.

“Oh!” Madame gave a very Gallic exclamation of approval “He is such an interesting man, don’t you think? He has travelled to so many places and done so many things, and he is so intelligent. Oh, I could listen to him for hours!”

“He must be absolutely delighted he’s met you!” said Adam.

Joby sat up in bed and pulled his fob-watch over to look at the time.

“Are you leaving me so soon?” said Kieran, from beside him in the bed.

“Adam’ll be starting on the lunch soon”, said Joby.

“You spend all day preparing meals”, said Kieran.

“Oh you’ve noticed have you!” said Joby.

He pulled the blankets over them and tickled Kieran until he was laughing helplessly.

“Not a bad way to spend the morning”, said Joby, eventually “Except I keep thinking we’re being watched”.

“Ach it’s probably Crowley”, said Kieran “Peering through the keyhole at us”.

“I’ll stuff it up with paper in future”, said Joby “God, it’s like living with the Bogeyman!”

“It’s exactly like living with the Bogeyman!” said Kieran “You’ll probably that back in the 1900s that mothers warned their kids not to go outside after dark or Mr Crowley would get them”.

“Yeah, that figures!” said Joby “The wind’s getting up outside, that’ll cause snow-drifts, we might end up getting stuck in here”.

In Julian’s room Bengo and Bardin had decided to try out his bed on their return from the boathouse (unbeknown to Julian who had stayed downstairs), because they wanted to make love under the mirror on the ceiling.

Afterwards, they were lying side-by-side staring up at their reflections, when they were unnerved by a hidden door creaking open by the head of the bed. Tamaz emerged, looking dusty.

“Did I scare you?” he asked.

“What the fuck are you playing at, Screwball?” said Bardin, leaping out of bed “Where did you come from?”

“It’s a secret passage”, said Tamaz “The whole house is riddled with them. This is one that starts behind our bathroom. I decided to follow it and it came out here”.

“You shouldn’t be prowling this house on your own!” said Bardin “Somebody could get lost in the walls round here and never be found again, in fact I wouldn’t’ surprised if they had!”

Bardin sounded so angry that Tamaz gave an alarmed yelp and jumped on the bed, seeking protection from Bengo. Bengo in turn decided to start a pillow-fight by clobbering Bardin with one. It split amidst a whirl of feathers.

“Now look what you’ve done!” said Bardin.

Julian could be heard talking to Ransey out in the corridor.

“What are we gonna do?” said Bengo.

“Scarper!” said Bardin.

The three of them ran through the secret door, the clowns grabbing their clothes as they went. The narrow secret passage was lit by a string of naked bulbs on a loose wire.

“Are you sure this is the right way?” said Bardin, once he had fully dressed himself as they walked along.

“I didn’t think your bathroom was this far away”, said Bengo.

“We must have taken a wrong turning”, said Tamaz.

“Oh great, now we’re lost!” said Bardin.

“Well we must come out in the house somewhere”, said Bengo.

“Yeah, probably down in the lower basement, knowing our luck!” said Bardin.

They came out of a fireplace, which was the first gap they came to that promised daylight. The fireplace was huge, about 5ft high, and led them into a room dazzling in its whiteness. The floors, ceiling and walls were white, and this, coupled with the reflection of the snow outside gave the room a mortuary feel. The window was arched and very high in the wall, so that it was impossible to see out of without standing on a chair, of which there were none in the room. The only items were an operating-table, covered in white sheet, situated under a lamp hanging on a chain from the centre of the ceiling, plus a metal glass-fronted cabinet containing a forbidding array of surgical instruments.

“There’s no door here”, said Bengo.

“There must be”, said Bardin “They can’t have got the table along that narrow passage, not unless they brought it along in pieces and put it together in here”.

“What on earth did they do in here?” said Bengo.

“I don’t know”, said Bardin “But I bet Sade does! C’mon, let’s go back and find a better way out”.

They did eventually emerge into the bathroom, where Kieran was in the tub at the time. He gave an exclamation at them startling him by coming out of the wall like that. Bardin ordered Bengo and Tamaz to stay with him. He himself was going down to the ground floor to speak to Sade.

“Julian won’t like this, Bardy”, Bengo called down over the banisters at him.

“That can’t be helped!” said Bardin.

“Clinical castration”, said Sade, who had been eating a bowl of soup when Bardin came in, and trying to make out it was far worse than it really was “Oh not like your little Negro friend, who was castrated because he wants to be a girl. These are men who saw it as the ultimate sexual thrill. We provided that service for them, and in return they allowed us to film it. There is quite an underground market for such things, don’t you know, both the operation and the films”.

“You’re a cold-bloodied sod aren’t you!” said Bardin.

“I was providing a service these men required”, said Sade “One said he liked it because it made him feel as though he was taking part in a sacrificial rite. Do not condemn tings just because you don’t understand them!”

Bardin made to leave the room.

“I need the pisspot!” shouted Sade.

Bardin dumped it on the bed and then made his escape. He bounded up the main staircase two steps at a time. Bengo was waiting for him at the top, sitting there eating an apple from a fruit-bowl in Kieran’s room.

“What were we thinking of!” Bardin almost squealed “Going to his room at the Chateau like that …”

“Bardy, you’re hysterical”, said Bengo “Calm down or I’ll have to slap you”.

Bardin told him what Sade had said.

“We met someone once who wanted that done”, said Bengo “Back in Aspiriola. Remember when we went to see that film where the woman hacked off that bloke’s dick in the bath?”

“What about it?” said Bardin.

“The cab-driver who took us to the red light district”, said Bengo “He went on about this clinical castration thingy”.

“Sade’s right, I don’t understand “, said Bardin “I mean, for a sexual high, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime offer, never to be repeated …”

“Bardy, you seem to be losing it”, said Bengo “Come down to the kitchen with me, we’ll have a cup of tea”.

Lunch-time started off in a very fraught manner. Hillyard and Codlik were at logger-heads once more. Hillyard made a joke to the effect that Codlik might as well have clinical castration, as from what Glynis had told him in the past, his dick wasn’t up to much anyway! Codlik was humiliated and furious. Bengo, who had been helping Joby to sort out the dishes on the table, didn’t know whether to laugh or look alarmed. Adam demanded to speak to Hillyard in the hallway at once.

Hillyard followed him there, shuffling along with his hands in his pockets, like a schoolboy who had been sent to the headmaster’s office and was trying to look like he didn’t care.

“What are you playing at?” Adam hissed “Really, I’m ashamed of you!”

“That’s a bit strong isn’t it?” said Hillyard.

“You do not bandy details of intimate conversations you’ve had with Glynis around the dining-room!” said Adam “That’s not gentlemanly behaviour, Hillyard”.

“I can’t help it”, said Hillyard “I can’t stand the sight of him! I keep going over and over in my head all the pain he’s caused us for so long”.

“I know it’s asking a lot, but we have to tolerate him, for the time being”, said Adam “It’s far better to have him jerking off at the mouth in here with us, than have him outside pissing in on us, don’t you think?”

Hillyard shuffled his shoes on the floor.

“For once I take Julian’s advice”, Adam continued “And I try and ignore Codlik as much as possible”.

“That’s easier for you two though ent it!” said Hillyard “He doesn’t get at you like he does me!”

“The fact is Codlik feels he has axes to grind against you”, said Adam “Unfinished business. I’d suggest you two put on those boxing-gloves we found downstairs, if I didn’t think it’d be a complete whitewash on your part!”

“He wouldn’t fight anyway”, said Hillyard “Too prissy. I’ve heard even more about him lately, he tried to have Kieran done for witchcraft! If he’d been able to get his way with the Church we’d have probably all been executed, you think on that!”

“I have!” said Adam “If we hadn’t had the sense to hole up at the lighthouse, and then at Zilligot Bay, like we did, who knows what would have happened? In my darker moments, I think we wouldn’t be alive now”.

“So you understand why I’m angry then?” said Hillyard.

“Yes!” said Adam “I get angry too you know! I’m not just some fruity old mother-hen in a pinny!”

Hillyard laughed.

“Oh be quiet!” said Adam “I rely on you, Hilly. Probably far more than you realise. Bengo’s worried about Bardin. This house has a habit of making people confront what’s in their subconscious. Bardin has a very ugly demon lurking in his”.

“What happened to him when he was little you mean?” said Hillyard “The pervy landlord”.

“Quite”, said Adam “Bengo’s worried that Bardin’s finding all this constant talk of sexual perversions and abuses round here increasingly hard to take. And I can see his point. Bardin seems to be continually on the brink of tears to me”.

“Bengo’ll keep him firmly anchored though won’t he?” said Hillyard.

“I’ve just had an idea”, said Adam “I should have thought of it before. You could help him you know. Out of all of us you’re the only other one who knows what it is .. what it is …”

“To be raped”, Hillyard finished the sentence for him.

“Yes”, said Adam.

“I suppose everyone thinks I’m cracking up, is that it?” said Bardin, watching as Hillyard put another log on the fire in the back drawing-room after lunch.

“Adam just thought that with all this depraved stuff round here it might be getting to you that’s all”, said Hillyard, now joining him on the sofa “And if I can help I will. Stop trying to be so bloody hard all the time”.

“I’m not”, said Bardin, tears welling up in his eyes “But what you went through was far worse than mine”.

“Yeah well, I don’t happen to agree”, said Hillyard.

“But that … that thing that got you”, said Bardin “It must have been horrific”.

“It was”, said Hillyard “But I had all the others to help me through it. Whereas you’ve bottled all that trauma up for years. What Adam meant by getting us two to talk like this was to show you that if all this round here starts getting to you then you don’t have to do that, you can talk about it. It’s time you stopped fighting me anyway. Sometimes you’re worse than Joby!”

“It’s because I used to be really jealous of you”, said Bardin “I don’t just mean over Bengo, or perhaps I do … look, you’ve always been so at ease with sex, like Bengo is. And I guess at times I’ve felt threatened by that. I’m so bloody bad in bed!”

“I ‘ve never heard Bengo complain!” said Hillyard “Nor any of the others come to that. And I’ve always thought you’re damn sexy, even when you’re being really bad-tempered! At least now we know what’s driving all that anger inside you, it’s a classic sign of someone who’s suffered abuse”.

“I’m scared these days too”, said Bardin “All these people that have reappeared out of oblivion, like Sade, and the brothers, and your friend we heard crying during Kieran’s séance that time .. I’m scared he’s going to come back as well”.

“The pervy landlord you mean?” said Hillyard “Even if he does, he can’t hurt you anymore. You’re a grown man now, not a little kid. And you’re not alone. There’s nothing he can do. And just remind yourself what a sad bastard he was. Imagine what a pathetic sex life he must have had to go round preying on little boys!”

“Sometimes I’m angry because I think people really did know what he was like”, said Bardin “Comments I heard over the years, things that were let slip here and there, many knew what he was really like. And the real shits is, that even if I’d gone public and exposed him, ignorant bastards would have still blamed me in some way. Would have tried to make out I provoked him. I can’t even face that now, let alone when I was younger!”

“Then ignore ‘em”, said Hillyard “Rise above it. A lot of people can’t get their heads round this sort of thing at all, but it don’t stop ‘em thinking they can wank off at the mouth about it! I can’t stomach that sort anymore than you can. It’s all so bloody simple to them. As far as they’re probably concerned I shouldn’t have gone to that party, and you shouldn’t have been a little boy alone in his room! They seem to have this idea that it’s the victim’s fault, when the real evil is the people who did the abuse! But they don’t wanna blame the big bastard, for some God alone knows what reason. It’s all skew-whiff to me, their way of thinking. I think it’s because they don’t’ wanna face real evil actually, it’s a form of moral cowardice I guess. You’ll have to talk to Kieran about this really”.

“You’re doing a pretty good job yourself!” said Bardin.

Down in the kitchen Bengo, who was supposed to be shelling peas, kept looking anxiously up at the big ponderous wall clock. Joby, the only other person in this cavernous room, was standing at the window, pensively watching the darkness steadily creep in, and biting his nails at the same time.

“It’s nearly 4 o’clock”, said Bengo.

“So?” said Joby “It happens twice a day, I thought even you might have noticed that!”

“They’ve been talking up there a long time”, said Bengo.

“I spect they’ve got a lot to talk about”, said Joby.

“Well why couldn’t Bardy talk about it with me?” said Bengo.

“Adam explained all that”, said Joby “Now don’t be such a selfish little git about it. You keep on like that and I’ll tan your arse!”

“Are you two alone down here?” said Kieran, stepping into the room.

“Adam and Lonts have gone out to feed the dogs”, said Joby “Lonts wants to let ‘em out tonight, but Ransey’s gotta finishing repairing the hole in the fence first, the one that we made”.

“What are you looking so anguished about, Bengo?” said Kieran.

“I’m completely useless”, said Bengo “Bardy can lean on me. I wish he’d told me at the time what had happened”.

“Are you crazy?” said Joby “You were only 6 at the time!”

“I was 7 when all that happened actually”, said Bengo.

“Oh well that makes all the difference don’t it!” said Joby “You must have matured so much in that extra year! Anyway, you’re having trouble enough getting your head round it now, let alone then!”

“I can still be supportive”, Bengo protested “But no, I’m useless, completely useless”.

“Ach I know how you feel”, said Kieran “So am I”.

“No you’re not”, said Joby “You can still make a good cup of tea, so put the kettle on!”

Adam and Lonts had fed the dogs, and then trudged through the deep snow round the side of the house to check the gates were fastened. Then they went up the front steps and into the house through the double front doors. They found Thetis standing in the hallway, staring into the fireplace, with the ubiquitous handbag on her arm.

“Hello Thetis”, said Adam “You’re looking a little tense, old love. Has anything happened?”

“Oh Adam, I know I can talk to you”, Thetis exclaimed “You understand only too well what a destructive emotion jealousy can be”.

“What do you mean?” Adam exclaimed, sitting in one of the tall hard-backed chairs as Lonts helped him off with his boots “Who’s been telling tales on me out of school?”

“Piers told me what happened all those years ago when you and Julian were young”, said Thetis “The champagne bottle incident”.

“Piers is a scummy little gas-bag!” said Adam, as Lonts hooted with laughter “He obviously hasn’t got enough to do with his time! We’ll have to set him to work sawing logs or something. Except the shock of sudden hard labour would probably kill him!”

“No, he was right to tell me”, said Thetis.

“That’s a matter of opinion!” said Adam.

“I too have a highly possessive streak in me, you see”, said Thetis “And it’s being tested sorely to its limits at the present time”.

“You’re surely not getting this worked up over Crowley?!” said Adam “Oh come on, Thetis, you’re a woman of the world, and you must surely have realised by now that Crowley isn’t the honourable, steadfast sort! For heaven’s sake, he abruptly abandoned his first wife in the Far East to pursue some bit of fluff! No wonder poor Rose drank! I can understand that, I’ve been there myself”.

“Adam …” Lonts began.

“It’s alright, Lo-Lo”, said Adam “I’m not going to upset myself, those memories don’t hurt me anymore. I’m just trying to make Thetis see sense! Thetis, if Crowley’s flirtations with Madame de Sade are really bothering you that much, then turn the tables on him. Take a lover yourself”.

“From round here?!” said Thetis “Like who? Piers is completely gormless, Josh should be living in a cave, and then there’s you lot! Aleister calls you the Band of Buggers”.

“Well he should know!” said Adam.

“There’s Codlik I suppose”, Thetis mused, to Adam’s horror, and then added (to Adam’s even greater horror) “Or there’s Mr de Sade”.

“You’ve got a bloody nerve!” said Hillyard, after Adam had called him into Sade’s old study for a private chat “Ever since I’ve known you you’ve moaned your head off about my sex life causing catastrophes, and now you’re practically ordering me to go up and shag Thetis!”

“I’m doing no such thing!” said Adam.

“Well it sounds bloody like it to me!” said Hillyard “I don’t know why you don’t go the whole hog and put a few adverts round the town advertising my services. Rent-A-Bloke. Hire Handy Hillyard, For All Your Personal Needs!”

“All this fuss over me asking you to pay a few courtly gallantries to an attractive, sophisticated woman!” said Adam “It’s hardly an onerous duty now is it! And it’ll give you something to do on these long, dark evenings”.

“Why don’t you do it then?” said Hillyard.

“Oh don’t be absurd!” said Adam “We have to at least try and make this appear convincing, and Crowley isn’t going to believe I’m suddenly on the turn! Anyway, I wouldn’t know where to begin!”

“Does Julian know about any of this?” said Hillyard.

“No, and I don’t care what Julian thinks”, said Adam “If he will persist in this Aunt Ada Doom act of his, he deserves everything he gets!”

“Blimey, that was quick”, said Joby, when Hillyard came down into the kitchen a short while later “Even for you!”

“She don’t want me does she!” said Hillyard “Doesn’t fancy me, told me so to my face and all!”

“Oh dear, I ‘m afraid Thetis can be rather abrasive at times”, said Adam.

“That’s that idea knocked on the head then”, said Joby.

“Not entirely”, said Hillyard “You see, it’s you she’s after”.

“Eh?” said Joby, relieved that Kieran was in the pantry having a few minutes alone with his Bible.

“Yeah, she said exactly that”, said Hillyard “She said if Adam had sent up Joby she’d have no complaints at all”.

“Bloody cheek of the woman!” said Adam “Does she think I’m running a knocking-shop down here? Providing men for her delectation?!”

“Well that’s the impression you’ve given her ent it!” said Hillyard.

Bengo was snorting with laughter, and the more Joby glared at him the more he snorted.

“This is bloody typical of women”, said Joby “You pass a few innocent pleasantries with ‘em and before you know it they’ve practically got you manacled to the bed!”

“A bit like men really”, said Adam.

“Aren’t you going up there then?” said Hillyard to Joby.

“What do you expect me to do?” said Joby “Run upstairs tearing me clothes off and yodelling like Tarzan?!”

“I can’t imagine anything more implausible!” said Adam.

“I ent doing it”, said Joby “If I was to do that Kieran’d vanish like the Indian rope-trick up into the ether, and he’d take Tamaz with him! You’ll have to find somebody else”.

“Don’t look at me”, said Bengo “Bardy’d flip out completely”.

“Rumble can be quite charming in a quiet, understated sort of way”, Adam mused.

“Use Julian”, said Joby “You keep moaning he hasn’t done anything since we’ve been here”.

“As long as we let Mieps in on the joke”, said Adam “That’s imperative!”

“Better hide the cross-bow first though”, said Joby “Just in case he doesn’t see the funny side!”

“Oh why not?” said Adam “We all need a bit of innocent fun round here”.

“It might back-fire on you”, said Hillyard “We could accidentally start something big, and him and Thetis run off together!”

“That could only be a bonus surely!” said Adam.

Adam complimented Julian on managing to turn up in the dining-room for dinner.

“I was beginning to think you had become incapacitated in some way”, said Adam.

“Bollocks”, said Julian “I went out to the generator shed yesterday, or was it the day before?”

“Joby, alert the Global News Agency”, said Adam “Julian went out to the generator shed yesterday!”

Julian sat down, muttering, and Joby hovered near him, trying to dish out roast potatoes.

“Come on, get on with it”, Julian snapped.

“I’ll drop the whole lot on the floor if you snap at me like that!” said Joby.

Josh came in, carrying some rubber enema tubes he had found in his room.

“You know what they do with these don’t you?” he said.

“Put them under the table”, Adam ordered “I’m beginning to wish we had put you in any room than that one!”

Josh sat down at his plate, crouched low over it, and began to shove food into his mouth as though he was a savage who hadn’t eaten for days.

“These sprouts are hard”, he said.

Joby approached him as though he was going to push his face in it, but Adam firmly led him away.

“Got any brown sauce?” Josh asked.

“No!” said Adam “You don’t have brown sauce with roasted vegetables!”

“No point trying to educate him”, said Joby “Like flogging a dead horse that is! I’m gonna see where Kieran’s got to”.

Kieran wasn’t far away. Joby found him in the hall staring into the fireplace, much as Thetis had done earlier.

“You’re not brooding about that bloody door again!” said Joby “Well you ent going down to look at it tonight and that’s final!”

Crowley walked past, carrying a gramophone into the dining-room. Victor struggled to keep up with him, carrying a sheaf of records in paper covers. Thetis and Madame de Sade followed up at the end of this little pageant, both doing their best to ignore each other.

Meanwhile, Hillyard had got Sade into an ancient wheelchair, one of the many peculiarities that had been unearthed in the basement, and was now wheeling him through the hall, accompanied by Toppy, who had stood by with a pistol in case Sade gave trouble when he was released from his shackles. The wheelchair came complete with leather arm-restraints.

“If you’re a good boy”, said Hillyard to Sade, as they went past “We won’t need to use ‘em. But if you start playing with yourself at the dinner-table, on they go!”

“Everybody’s coping with this horrible situation”, said Kieran.

“Would you rather we didn’t cope then??” Joby exclaimed “What else can we do, Kiel? WE don’t know what’s gonna happen next do we, so we might as well make the best of it”.

“Kieran!” Lonts bellowed “Adam says you’re to come in and eat something at once!”

As if afraid Kieran might do a runner, Lonts grabbed his hand and hauled him forcibly in the direction of the dining-room.

“I don’t think Adam’s plan to get Thetis off with Julian is going to work somehow”, Bengo giggled, when he and Bardin were alone in bed together at the end of the evening.

“I know”, said Bardin “They played backgammon together after dinner and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more bad-tempered game!”

“And Mieps thinks it’s all a lousy idea”, said Bengo “He says Thetis is as highly-sexed as a Ghoomer and so we shouldn’t be messing around with her like this”.

“But that’s why we are!” said Bardin “We have to distract her from doing any serious damage to Missus! Are you warm enough?”

“Yes”, said Bengo “The hot-water bottle makes all the difference doesn’t it?”

“Mm”, said Bardin, and he yawned “I’m not looking forward to tomorrow”.

“Why, what’s happening tomorrow?” said Bengo “Do you think the door might be open?”

“No, I might have to have a chat with Sade”, said Bardin.

“What do you want to speak to him for?” said Bengo.

“Find out what happened to Brother Iggy”, said Bardin.

“We know what happened to him, Bardy”, said Bengo “The Ghoomers murdered him, we’ve seen the pictures”.

“Yes I know, but I want to know how responsible Sade was”, said Bardin “I know he’s a bastard, and I know he’s had a lot of control in the films that were made here, but I don’t think he authorised that. I’m starting to think that he’s not the top-dog behind all this, anymore than Crowley is. In some ways I think they’ve been used almost as much as Clarissa was”.

“My sympathies are more with Clarissa!” said Bengo.

“Sade hasn’t got the business-sense or the single-mindedness to have run a highly powerful concern like this”, said Bardin “All he wants to do is to satisfy his sexual whims. He’s at the mercy of his dick! And Crowley has the business-sense of a gnat! No, there’s someone else nearby behind all this, and that person, or persons, was the one who came up with the idea for Brother Iggy’s death, and who set the Ghoomers on to execute it. And that person has been using Crowley and Sade as well, I’m sure of it”.

Julian crept into the darkened room, carrying an ornate candlelabra.

“No need to be alarmed”, he said “It’s only me, or perhaps that is cause for alarm! I’ve just come in to tell you that the power’s failed. Hillyard wanted to go down and fix the generator now, but I told him not to be absurd. It’s late, and the dogs are loose in the grounds. It can wait til tomorrow”.

He set the candlelabra down on a side-table. Bardin jumped out of bed and hugged him.

“There, my boy”, Julian patted him “I haven’t been much use to you today have I? In fact no doubt Adam would say that I’ve been completely useless! I’m not much good with emotional trauma you see. I tend to want to pull people out of it, when they really want to talk it through”.

“It doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t”, said Bardin “Is Finia alright? I feel selfish. The others going to all this trouble over me, when he had a far worse time of it in his childhood really”.

“Finia’s fine”, said Julian “He’s incredibly self-possessed. More than any of us I sometimes think. But don’t worry, I’ll keep an eye on him, particularly whilst we’re in this house of fun!”

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