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By Sarah Hapgood

Even as early as Midsummer's Eve they were already living under the advancing shadow of the hurricane and monsoon season, which ws now only a matter of a few weeks away. Time passed with frightening speed at the Bay. Days passed so pleasently that it was impossible to keep track of time.

And by Midsummer's Even Bardin was beginning to feel very depressed at the thought of going back to Toondor Lanpin, even if it was only for a couple of months. The Bay was the only place he felt truly free of insecurity. When Bengo had abruptly left the Cabaret of Horrors, so abruptly he hadn't taken anything with him, he had unwittingly hurt Bardin considerably. Bengo had since explained that he knew it was pointless telling Bardin what his plans were, as Bardin would never have come with him.

"You had dinned it into me over years and years that our careers were everything", said Bengo "I knew damn well you would never have come with me to join Kieran".

In spite of Bengo's sincere declarations of love though, Bardin still lived in mortal fear of losing him, and particularly wanted to keep him away from the likes of Godle at the Little Theatre. When Bengo realised how upset he was getting, he offered to marry him!

"You're not having a baby are you?" said Bardin.

"Kieran could officiate", said Bengo, undaunted "If the Vicar in Toondor Lanpin got funny about it. Not that Kieran ever takes any crap from his Church".

"Then he might as well do it here!" said Bardin "Could you imagine the circus it'd turn into if we did it in Toondor Lanpin? Hawkefish would use it as publicity! 'Come and join the Little Theatre Dating Agency! Meet the clown of your dreams!'"

This conversation acted as a strangely reassuring salve to Bardin's fears though. Bengo's well-meant offer of marriage did more than endless protestations of undying love could have done, and from that moment on he did ease up slightly in his fretting. Even so, he was still determined that they would all stay at the Bay if they could, and he even suggested to the other BBTTs that they should stage a mutiny if necessary.

"If we refuse to leave", said Bardin "They'll have to stay here".

The 4 of them were standing in the stone cottage late one morning, eating hunks of bread smeared with marmalade. All were naked, apart from Tamaz, who was wearing a pair of white laced-trimmed drawers.

"Not necessarily", said Bengo "They might go off and leave us here".

"Joby won't leave me behind", said Tamaz "Nor will Mieps. You have some crazy ideas sometimes!"

He dipped a teaspoon into the jar of marmalade and flicked it at Bardin, a dollop of it landing in his hair. Bardin stuck his hand in the jar and smeared it over Tamaz's bare breasts. Bengo leaned forward and sucked some of it off Tamaz's right nipple.

"You kinky bastard!" Bardin laughed.

"I thought you lot were going shellfish-collecting this morning", said Adam, sounding rather testy as he came into the room.

"Just off", said Bardin, holding up his hands in a placatory fashion.

"Before you go I should inform you of something", said Adam "I may appear exceptionally old and decrepit to you, but I can assure you there is nothing wrong with my hearing! And so I strongly advise you to forget your little idea of mutiny. If you did try to go ahead with it, we would only put you all bodily back on the sloop".

"It wasn't my idea", Tamaz pouted.

"Julian would not tolerate a mutiny", Adam continued, regardless "Any efforts to do so and you'll find yourselves having your butts beaten!"

"Almost sounds worth doing just for that", Bengo muttered.

This was the sort of remark Adam would have made himself, and so he couldn't help but laugh.

"Go and get the fishing done", he said "And Freaky, you'd better wash your tits. I don't know if jellyfish might be partial to marmalade!"

Out in the clearing Mieps was being oiled and massaged by Hillyard. When they were constructing the new hut, Mieps had worked hard mixing up the mud for the bricks, and then shaping and cutting them. But hours spent crouched in one position in the hot sunshine had left him with a bad attack of lumbago. Hillyard massaged him expertly, but Mieps was a bad patient and grumbled constantly about his handling.

"Look, I know something about therapeutic massage", said Hillyard, pulling him about "And I have to tie you up in knots, there's nothing else for it".

"I feel like a chicken being got ready for the oven", said Mieps.

"Yeah, you wait til we put the stuffing in!" said Hillyard.

Adam went round to the back of the cottage, where Kieran was sitting in the hip-bath, watching a mouse scuffling through the undergrowth nearby. Adam washed his back, and then helped him out of the tub, sitting him on his lap and towelling him dry as though he was a small child. It was the sort of thing he had done a lot for him when Kieran was young, and apart from a couple of fine lines around his mouth, and a permanent line of concentration etched between his eyebrows, Kieran still looked young.

"You used to have fantasies about this kind of existence when we were at the Winter Palae", he said.

"And they came true, in the end", said Adam "I wish we'd known whilst we were at that dreadful place that we had all this to come to us eventually. I didn't just want it for me. I mainly wanted it for you, somewhere I could keep you safe".

"Nowhere in the world is completely safe", said Kieran "But you've done a pretty good job of looking after me all-told. I expect that sounds egotistical. As though all your life's been about is keeping an eye on me!"

"Oh horribly egotistical!" said Adam, skittishly "But then you do live in a colony of spoilt brats so I suppose it's inevitable!"

He dropped the towel on the ground. Then he picked Kieran up as though he was a trophy and carried him into the overgrown bushes nearby.

The following afternoon saw a tropical storm, which went on for hours. Julian and Hillyard had gone across to the old lighthouse to watch it out at sea, and had set up a scratch picnic in the downstairs room, which still had its ceiling intact. Hillyard was just making another cup of fearsomely strong coffee over a small gas stove which they left over there, when Kieran arrived, drenched to the skin.

"Jeez, sometimes I think I'm back in Ireland!" he said, shaking himself like a dog.

"Good for the water-butts though, and Joby's garden", said Hillyard "Isn't he with you?"

"He's asleep on the sloop", said Kieran "He's been working so hard I didn't want to wake him up".

"Take your trousers off", said Hillyard.

"That your idea of foreplay is it?!" said Kieran.

"Nah come on, you'll catch your death", said Hillyard "I'll try and dry 'em a bit over the chair. I'm not going to try it on with you anyway. The Prince of Darkness is only upstairs".

"That doesn't normally stop you!" said Julian, shouting down the circular stone steps.

Kieran shed his trousers, grabbed a hunk of goat's cheese from the leavings on the table and then went up the steps to see Julian, who was leaning against the sill of the high window, peering through a pair of binoculars.

"Quite a dramatic sight", he said "Come and have a look".

"How?" said Kieran, who was too short to see out of the window.

Julian handed him the binoculars and then picked him up so that he could see out. The sky out over the high seas was a terrifying sight, with lightning forking down in three places at once.

"I'm glad we're not out there!" said Kieran.

He heard Joby arriving and talking to Hillyard in the room below, and at the same time he became acutely aware that Julian's arms were wrapped round his naked genitals.

"You'd better put me down", Kieran whispered.

"Cock-tease", said Julian, setting him back on his feet and giving his bare backside a slap.

Kieran skipped down the stone steps ahead of him. In the room below Joby was stirring a cup of coffee whilst Hillyard massaged one of his feet.

"Isn't this great!" said Kieran, sitting down at the table "Like the opening scene of 'Ulysses'".

"What's 'Ulysses'?" said Hillyard.

"A very long novel", said Julian, sitting in a deck-chair by the stove and stretching out his long legs "Written by one of his fellow tribesmen, and so naturally as verbose as you would expect!"

"Except this is a lighthouse, not a Martello tower", Kieran continued "I could be Stephen Dedalus, the hero".

"Of course, who else!" said Joby.

"Julian's the snooty Englishman", said Kieran.

"He was rather more like Adam", said Julian "The way he was always desperately trying to ingratiate himself with Dedalus and his chums".

"Hillyard makes a perfect Buck Mulligan", said Kieran.

"Good-looking fella was he?" said Hillyard.

"A fat, druken lout from what I remember", Julian laughed "Perfect casting really!"

"So I remind you of him do I?" said Hillyard, looking rather hurt at Kieran.

"In a positive way", said Kieran.

"How can a fat, drunken lout be positive?" said Hillyard.

"He was a very intelligent fat, drunken lout", said Kieran.

"Who do I get to be then?" said Joby.

"The old hag who brings the milk", said Julian.

"Oh cheers, thanks!" said Joby "You're on form today!"

"It's thunderstorms", said Hillyard "They always get him too excited!"

"Joby's Mr Bloom of course!" Kieran exclaimed.

"I'm not even gonna ask who he was!" said Joby "I'm bound to feel insulted!"

"Not at all, he was a very important character", said Kieran.

"Freaky can be Mrs Bloom", said Julian "Particularly when he's got his drawers and his pink silk stockings on. He always looks like a showbiz tart then".

"I'm very fond of those stockings", said Joby, unabashed "They look decadent, in an old-fashioned way".

"Freaky always looks decadent in an old-fashioned way!" said Julian.

"I thought you were having a kip anyway", said Kieran.

"I was, but the storm woke me up", said Joby "And everyone else was pillocking about so I couldn't get off again. One day we're really gonna have to move in with some adults!"

"I don't think we'd fit in!" said Kieran.

A horrendous clap of thunder startled Julian so much that he spilt his coffee.

"Are you alright?" said Hillyard.

"Yes!" said Julian, in exasperation.

He had been deep in thought when the thunder had startled him. The incessant rain that day had given them a foretaste of what to expect of monsoon season in Tonodor Lanpin, and he was suddenly struck by the realisation that he simply couldn't face it. He had nothing against the Town House, they had had some damn good times there, but the thought of trudging round Toondor's muddy streets, listening to the boring drones of its new respectable population in the bars, and having to fend off Hawkefish and Jonner, both trying to poach members of his family for their own ends, was too much. It was also far too close to Codlik. God forbid, he might even actually be in the town whilst they were there! No, he wasn't going through all that again.

Back on the sloop later that evening, he dug out every map he possessed and came up with the idea of sailing down to the Village of Stairs until the worst of the windy season was over. The Stairs were situated just below the hurricane belt, and as far as he knew they were never overly-troubled by torrential rain. The others were receptive to the idea. Adam said they could restock as much as they needed without having to worry about the load, as they had had to in Aspiriola, because this time they would have the sloop with them. He also intended to pick up a couple of feral cats, which was the only way to combat the rodent problem at the Bay. Kieran was also taken with the whole idea, as it meant he could drop in unexpectedly on Levka, who always appeared as an ongoing niggling worry at the back of his mind.

"And for the next few weeks, until we leave", said Julian "We will get total obedience from the clowns. If not, I shall threaten to sell them back to Ully!"

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