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By Sarah Hapgood

Many more trips were made to Midnight Castle over the next few weeks. Whole afternoons were spent within the sensual confines of its house and grounds, with the visitors always being careful to leave at dusk. Occasionally all 16 of the Indigo-ites decamped there for a day, taking a horse and cart with provisions down there at dawn and staying there for the next 12 or 13 hours. These were very enjoyable and interesting occasions.

The Castle was found to still have running water, coming through pipes from the well in the garden, and so they filled the sunken bath, which gave them an extra bonus in the festivities. The Castle seemed to yield up more and more delightful secrets everytime they looked. For instance, buried amongst all the wild undergrowth in the garden was the remains of what must have once been an impressive maze. By far the most spectacular discovery was a wall mosaic they uncovered in the cellar, depicting naked young men and women dancing, in a very pagan style. This confirmed to them what they had long believed, that both men and women had once lived at Midnight Castle, and this filled them with a hope that perhaps, like so many other hidden places, somehow they had managed to avoid the terrible things that had happened in the outside world. Although what had happened to them still remained as much of a mystery as ever.

On all these visits to the Castle though, the Indigo-ites never failed to leave at dusk. It was on one such day as this, at around Eastertime, that they returned in the cart to the clearing to find that they had visitors. Codlik had got his yacht out of mothballs in Toondor Lanpin, and had decided to take Glynis and young Leon, accompanied by a small crew, on an Easter holiday sailing-trip. On the way they had called in at No-Name and picked up Dolores and her family, mercifully though Thierry had been left behind in the village.

To say the Indigo-ites were dismayed to see them would be an understatement. The visitors had arrived at lunchtime, and had been kicking their heels ever since, wondering what had happened to them, reasoning that they couldn't be far as the sloop was still there, as were most of the animals.

The Indigo-ites made hasty adjustments to themselves in the hay-cart, putting on clothes and generally straightening themselves up. Bengo was still wearing a dog-leash, with which Kieran had taken him on a walk through the maze. Bengo quickly removed it, and his old stage kneepads, which he had worn to protect his skin from grazing during his doggy escapades.

"We thought you couldn't be far", said Codlik, shaking hands with Julian "We've come to shatter your peace, shake you up a bit".

This is always the sort of teasing that unctuous guests make, as though their presence was an exciting welcome diversion in an otherwise crushingly dull existence, instead of what it really was, a tedious interruption in an otherwise pleasent and enjoyable existence!

"Where have you been all day?" said Glynis, crossly "Leon's had to go to bed without seeing you".

"Yes well we had no idea you were coming", said Julian, icily.

"We'd have stayed away for the night if we had!" Joby grunted, causing Adam to thump him into silence.

"We would have let you know", said Codlik "But as you refuse to have any method of communication here, it is rather difficult. I've said time and again it would be useful for you to have a wireless-set on your vessel, so we can get hold of you".

(This was precisely why they didn't have one!)

"So where have you been then?" Glynis harped on.

Julian and Adam had quickly decided not to tell them about Midnight Castle, in case they wanted to see it for themselves. The visitors' presence might destroy its magical atmosphere for the Indigo-ites.

"Oh just for a little picnic in the forest", said Adam.

"So you had a pleasent day relaxing and doing nothing?" said Codlik, with an attempt at being convivial.

"I wouldn't say nothing exactly", said Julian.

"Jules!" said Adam, hastily.

"He asked!" said Julian.

It was easy to avoid any unpleasentness that evening. Everyone, including the visitors, was tired, so a massed retreat to their different vessels took place, after the Indigo-ites had attended to their various animals first.

Glynis appeared after breakfast the following morning, bringing Leon with her. They both sat around in the stone cottage, whilst Adam washed some of the berries he had collected from the Castle grounds the day before. Lonts was helping him, and a difficult altercation took place when Leon took a shine to Snowy and started pulling him about. Lonts didn't take kindly to this, and picked up Leon by the scruff of his neck, as though he was about to hurl him bodily out of the cottage!

"Lonts, no!" Adam stopped him "Put him down, he's only a little boy. He's not Bengo!"

Lonts unceremoniously dumped Leon onto one of the kitchen chairs, and stormed out of the cottage, saying he was going for a walk in the forest. Adam, highly-flustered, apologised to Glynis for all he was worth.

"He's not used to small children", he said, breathlessly "He's used to manhandling the clowns!"

"Leon's alright, that's the main thing", said Glynis "I did explain to him about Lonts before we got here".

"What did you say about him?" said Adam, defensively.

"Nothing horrible, Adam", said Glynis, gently "Believe me".

"I'm sorry", said Adam "I didn't mean to snap".

"Actually very little fazes Leon", Glynis smiled.

This was true. Leon didn't seem in the least perturbed by his shaking at Lonts's hands. He was now sitting at the kitchen table, scoffing some of the berries, with a serene smile on his portly little face. That he looked and acted exactly like a miniature version of Hillyard was a fact that was getting increasingly hard to ignore!

Lonts had intended to spend several hours in the forest "being distraught". After only a few minutes though he was distracted by an altercation going on in the midst of a clump of trees. He hid behind a bush and watched as Mieps and Codlik had an argument that at times bordered on hysteria. Not helped by Codlik constantly trying to get his hands and lips inside Mieps's shirt.

"I can't simply forget what happened", said Codlik, wretchedly "That night at the Castle was something special. There was magic in the air".

"It was just sex", said Mieps, hissing so much that his words almost came out entirely as SSSs "We both needed it, and so we had it. End of story. It can go no further. There is no future in it. Our lives are entirely different to one anothers".

"We can work something out", said Codlik.

"How?" Mieps barked "Shall I come up to the big house as your concubine? I don't think so! Everything I need is here. I don't need you. If you want someone's tits to chew, go and see your wife! Hers are a lot bigger than mine anyway!"

Lonts slipped away from the scene, angry and upset.

Joby was watering his vegetable plot, helped by Bengo. Ransey was nearby, chopping up wood for new fence-posts. Dolores was watching all this activity from under the shade of an orange parasol. Bengo finished his work by tipping the remains of the water in his watering-can over himself, and then walking back to the sloop, his wet suntanned flesh glistening in the heat. Dolores watched him with extreme feelings. One part of her was very attracted to him, another blamed him for all the trouble with Thierry the previous year. Dolores, a rational, intelligent woman in most things, had an utter blind-spot where her own family were concerned.

"He's horribly vain, that young man", she said.

"Bengo? Vain?" said Joby, in disbelief "That's one thing he aint! If I had his looks I'd be a lot vainer than he is. I'd be vain all over the place!"

"Ah, but you have other qualities", said Dolores, trying to ease the tension.

"Yes, wit, charm, grace and sophistication", said Kieran.

Joby, who had been patting down some wet soil, got up and clapped his hands on either side of Kieran's face, leaving muddy handprints on his cheeks. Then he slapped his backside before walking away. Dolores fished out a spotless white handkerchief and passed it to Kieran.

"No I can't mess that up", said Kieran, and he wiped his face on the hem of his vest.

"Lonts!" Ransey suddenly exclaimed "Don't stand so close when I'm chopping. I've told you about that before".

"Where's Glynis?" said Lonts, who was visibly distressed.

"She's over there", Ransey gestured at the veranda of the Butlin's Chalet "You'd see if you looked".

"Has she been there all the time?" said Lonts.

"No, she's just got back", said Ransey "She took the little one for a dip in the sea".

Glynis was rinsing sea-water off Leon with another watering-can. Leon was squealing with pleasure.

"Glynis", said Lonts, approaching them "I just want you to know I think you're a really nice woman".

Glynis thought he was still upset over the earlier incident in the cottage, and that this was his way of an apology.

"Thank you, Lonts", she said, graciously "I think you're very nice too".

"A-and I hope we'll always be friends", said Lonts.

"But of course we will!" said Glynis.

Lonts walked away, still looking sad. Leon ran off, chasing one of the chickens, and Hoowie was stood watching Glynis in her swimsuit with obvious lust.

"Could you kindly make it a little less obvious?" said Glynis, crossly "I don't know why on earth Kieran wanted you with them".

"No one else could put up with him", said Tamaz "Ignore him. He's been trying to get a glimpse of you naked ever since you arrived. He's a real sad git", he pushed Hoowie in the chest "Come on back to the sloop. Finia's going to trim your hair".

"Will it make me look more macho?" said Hoowie.

"I doubt it", said Tamaz.

"I haven't taken too much off", said Finia, after he had finished clipping Hoowie in the cabin "You've still got enough to stuff a mattress with".

"It used to reach down to my nipples", said Hoowie, looking at himself in a hand-mirror.

"Huh, now we can see even more of his ugly face than ever", said Tamaz.

"At least mine doesn't kill people!" said Hoowie.

"Pack it in", said Bardin, who was lying on the communal bunk reading, with Bengo dozing next to him "Stop squabbling, the pair of you".

"We're not squabbling", said Tamaz, haughtily "We're having a stimulating discussion".

"It sounded like squabbling to me", said Bardin.

"That's the only way they can communicate!" said Finia.

Tamaz glared at him, and then facetiously peeded inside Finia's bikini bottoms.

"Oh dear, there's nothing there", he said.

Finia cuffed him round the head.

"Has anyone seen Adam?" said Lonts, appearing in the doorway.

"If he's not outside he's probably in the galley", said Finia.

Lonts shuffled away again.

"Something's up!" said Tamaz, excitedly.

"Three guesses that it's something to do with our visitors", said Bardin, and he gave a heavy sigh.

Joby had retreated to the food-store in the hold to get away from their visitors. There, he had lit an oil-lamp and put a sack of potatoes against the door, before settling down with a gardening magazine and a piece of paper on which to make notes with the stub of a pencil.

"Joby, are you busy in there?" Adam called, from the other side of the door.

"Yeah, I'm loaded down with work", said Joby "So go away and stop mithering me".

Adam pushed open the door, causing the sack of potatoes to fall over.

"What did I just say?" Joby exclaimed.

"It's dreadfully stuffy in here", said Adam "Why don't you go and work on deck?"

"Because visitors can get me up there", said Joby.

"Well I wondered if you'd like to come and help me make the fruit pies", said Adam.

"I've told you time and again til I'm blue in the face, that I hate making poxy pastry!" said Joby "Get Rumble to help you, he can cook".

"Yes, but he doesn't know how to make pastry", said Adam.

"High time he learnt then", Joby grunted.

"Adam!" Lonts roared from the galley.

"Tiny Clanger wants you", said Joby.

As soon as Adam stepped back into the galley, Lonts burst into tears. Gradually Adam got it out of him what he had seen in the woods.

"It's no good upsetting yourself, Lo-Lo", said Adam, softly "I'm afraid that this is something Codlik and Glynis have to realise between them. Where other people's marriages are concerned, we rarely know all the story".

"But what about Mieps?" Lonts wailed.

"He's got involved in something that has turned out to be a lot more complicated than he initially thought", said Adam "You remember what a strange night that was at the Castle. All sorts of things were happening. I know for a fact Mieps was very concerned about Tamaz, and once Dalman was destroyed, well I expect he needed an outlet for his relief. I honestly think that's all it was, he's said as much to me since. Unfortunately Codlik is being rather immature about it all. Instead of taking it like a man and simply treating it as an interesting one-off experience, he's getting all emotional and idealistic, and threatening to ruin everything. Up til now I've rather admired him for taking on Leon and bringing him up as his own, not all men would have done so. It shows his better side. The trouble is, his worst side seems to be that he can't always cope very well with the unexpected events in life. He tends to go off the rails then, and I know full well that's the pot calling the kettle black!"

"Will Mieps go to the big house to live?" said Lonts, worriedly.

"I should think that is extremely unlikely", said Adam "He has no interest in Codlik as a long-term affair".

"We'll have to keep Mieps and Codlik from being alone together as much as possible", said Lonts, firmly "Hillyard'll be able to help there".

"Yes, ironically", said Adam "I rather think he might!"

Codlik issued out a verbal invitation for 4 of the Indigo-ites (which 4 remained unspecified) to join him and his party for dinner on his yacht that evening. He said he had no room to invite all of them. Even so, 4 out of the 16 was a niggardly amount. It also turned out that dinner was to start at the ridiculously late hour of 8:30. This may have been acceptable at the big house, where they needed several hours to recover from afternoon tea first, but at the Bay it was almost sadistic, like asking someone to wait until midnight for their evening meal.

It was usually pitch-black at the Bay by 8:30, and the Indigo-ites' customary practice was to retreat to the sloop by then, along with all the animals. As they had all had a day in the open air, working up appetites, their evening meal was normally over and done with by then, and it was time for the pleasures of the communal bed.

Julian decided to take Adam, Kieran and Joby with him, and they prepared to leave the sloop in their finery (a few clean clothes they had managed to scrape together between them), just as the others were bringing the animals aboard for the night.

"Have a nice time, girls!" Hillyard trilled from the entrance to the hold, where he had been manoeuvring one of the horses into its stall.

"Sarcastic bastard", said Joby "It should be him going, not me".

"Haven't they got enough problems at the moment?!" said Kieran.

"Serves 'em right", said Joby "Neither of 'em are any better than they should be! I dunno what gives 'em the right to put on airs and graces with us".

"This is going to be a fun evening isn't it!" said Adam.

"What's the matter with him?" said Ransey, referring to the billy-goat who was being sick on the jetty.

"Too many sweets", said Joby "Leon's been feeding him chocolate and fudge all afternoon. I'm not surprised he's feeling queasy!"

"Have you got my spare revolver?" said Ransey.

Julian held open his jacket, which had the revolver tucked into the inside pocket.

"Oh is that absolutely necessary?" said Adam, in exasperation "We're only going a few hundred yards!"

"Adam, there could be anything lurking out there in the darkness", said Julian.

"And it's a full moon tonight as well", said Joby, lugubriously.

The saloon on Codlik's yacht burst on them in a whirl of light after the inky blackness of outside. Glynis came to meet them, looking magnificent in a blue silk gown, which emphasised her voluptuous figure to stunning effect. The skirt was very full, and Kieran joked that if he felt like a snooze later he could curl up under its cosy folds!

Both she and Dolores were good company, which made up for Codlik and his worrying air of distraction. Simeon, Dolores's other brother, was also very quiet, and sat slumped in his chair like an abandoned suit of clothes.

"He's a bit disappointed I'm afraid", said Dolores "He was rather hoping Tamaz would be joining us".

"Well he could have come too", said Julian "But Codlik was rather emphatic about limiting our numbers to 4".

"We didn't have much choice really", said Glynis "Our dining-room isn't very big, and we wouldn't have been able to fit everyone in".

"We understand", said Adam "And it would have been too chaotic to bring our lot on here. Jules would have had to have brought the horse-whip with him!"

They went into eat soon after. The dining-room was much the nicest room on the yacht, decorated throughout in a very soothing red which wasn't in the least bit strident or intimidating. On the wall hung a reproduction of 'The Last Supper', which Glynis had unearthed in one of Woll's old rooms at the big house.

"You are rather large and unwieldy aren't you?" said Dolores, as the heavily spiced lamb chops were passed round.

"Am I?" said Julian, in astonishment "Must be old age".

"No I don't mean you personally", said Dolores "I mean your group. Sixteen is quite a crowd to all live together".

"I don't understand why you want that Hoowie with you at all", said Glynis "I thought it would be an excellent idea to send him to the Little Theatre".

"Adam has a theory about that, don't you?" said Julian.

"Well it's Bardin's theory really", said Adam "He said that Hoowie had all the mental trappings of a performer, i.e a desperate need to be loved and noticed. He said that was exactly how he was himself, but that since he took up with us he gets all the love and attention he needs, so he doesn't feel the urge to perform, which I think is rather sweet".

"And you think that will work with Hoowie?" said Dolores, dubiously.

"It seems to be", said Adam "I think he will always want to be provocative, it's in his nature, he takes after Julian there".

"I had a feeling you were going to say that", said Julian.

"But he also has his calm phases", said Adam "When you know someone is always there or nearby, ready to listen, you don't need to keep coming out with outrageous things to get the world to notice you".

"And Hoowie does at least understand that he can be a pain in the neck", said Julian.

"Yes, he told me recently that he knows he should have been getting therapy for years", said Adam "That's not an admission I would have willingly made at his age".

"Nor me", said Julian.

"I wish it could always have been that simple with Thierry", Dolores sighed "He's always had plenty of attention. Too much probably. From when he was a small boy he learnt that he only had to say or do something dreadful and he would get all the attention he needed".

"You got about the worst deal of the lot with Thierry", said Adam, sympathetically.

"He learnt to manipulate people from a very early age", said Dolores "But sadly not in any constructive way".

"I like Hoowie", Helene suddenly drawled "He has nice hair".

"There's enough of it on our cabin floor at the moment", said Joby "We'll collect it up and send it round to you if you like!"

"We'd send you the rest of him too", said Julian "Only we haven't quite finished house-training him yet. He'd probably end up wrecking the yacht and causing a mutiny amongst your crew!"

Everyone laughed, except Codlik, who was sitting at the head of the table, methodically and grimly eating his way through his meal like a condemned man at breakfast.

"He's very quiet this evening", said Adam, in a low voice.

"Worn out, I expect", said Joby "Too much sex!"

Adam stamped on his foot with his heel.

"Ow!" Joby exclaimed, which at least roused Codlik from his gloom-laden lethargy.

"Have you heard about all the trouble in Aspiriola?" he said.

"We haven't heard anything for several weeks, old love", said Adam.

"What trouble?" said Kieran.

"There's been rioting up there", said Codlik "The Governor's been deposed".

"Oh this is all your doing, Patsy", said Adam "You gave that very inflammatory speech on the waterfront whilst we were up there".

"Some inflammatory speech!" said Kieran "That was ages ago, it's taken long enough for 'em to catch fire!"

"What's happened to the Governor?" said Julian.

"Under house-arrest", said Codlik "The revolutionaries have promised no harm will come to him or his family, as long as they live quietly out of sight, which is what they've always done anyway".

"I don't like the sound of that", said Julian "The next thing we know they'll have all been herded into a cellar and shot, like the Romanovs".

"Governor Brinslee has offered to take them in at Port West", said Codlik "But I'm afraid they refused to go".

"Why, for heaven's sake?" said Adam.

"I'd have been out like a shot", said Joby.

"You obviously have a much better sense of self-preservation", said Codlik "Something which I have to say the Governor Aspiriola is not renowned for. He's refused to leave apparently, because he says no one has the right to forcibly remove him, and deny him his rightful place in the world".

"The stupid fool!" said Julian.

"I agree with you", said Codlik "I can well understand the urge to do one's duty, but he has his family to think of. I would give in to bullies if it meant getting Glynis and Leon to safety".

"He'll go the way of Louis XVI, Charles The First, and Nicholas Romanov", said Julian "All idiots with the self-preservation instinct of a lemming! They simply have no idea how to cut their losses and run".

"If he ends up getting executed it'll be all my fault", said Kieran.

"Rubbish!" Julian thundered "If he ends up getting executed it'll be his own stupid fault and no one else's, for trying everyone's patience for far too long!"

"Yes, don't be ridiculous, Patsy", said Adam "We saw what things were like when we were there. The Governor and his family have abused their positions for years. In a more volatile place they'd have been kicked out years ago".

"Brinslee has offered to fly in himself and try and talk sense to him", said Codlik "But I said leave it for a while, I wanted to talk to Kieran first, who is really the only person who can get him out safely".

"And I need to talk to Julian first", said Kieran "He's the Captain. He decides where the sloop goes".

"Glynis and I have discussed this", said Codlik "We've agreed that as ours is the fastest vessel ..."

"No it isn't", said Julian.

"That it might be best if he came along with us", Codlik continued.

"We can sail up the coast from here", said Glynis "We would be in Aspiriola in a matter of days".

"You would take Leon into the thick of a revolution?" said Adam.

"It's not a very bloody revolution", said Glynis "Life in Aspiriola is still carrying on very much as normal, by all accounts, and Leon would stay on the yacht at all times".

"I would come too", said Dolores "It's very much a diplomatic mission, not an armed invasion!"

"We would bring Kieran safely back", said Glynis.

"WE will bring Kieran safely back", said Julian.

"I can't ask everyone to pack up and come with me", said Kieran.

"So you suggest we stay behind at the Bay quietly doing our needlepoint whilst we wait for you to return, is that it?" said Julian.

Glynis and Dolores were both excited by the prospect, and after dinner they dragged out every map on the boat to plan the trip. Codlik went to the saloon with Kieran and Julian to discuss everything further. Julian seemed to be more concerned with staging a yacht race, to prove his boat's supremacy, than rescuing the arrogant Governor and his unlovely tribe!

Joby fetched a whisky decanter from the sideboard and slammed it down on the dining-table, pouring himself out a large measure. Adam pointedly replaced the glass stopper. Joby removed it again.

"He always does this!" he cried "He can never leave things alone!"

"If anything had happened to the Governor and his family, Patsy would never forgive himself", said Adam "You know what he's like. It would prey on his conscience. It might even send him into another decline".

"If he has another one, I'm gonna have him committed!" said Joby "I'm not going thorugh all that again! It went on for ages. Not eating, lying there groaning, whipping himself, having hysterics. Bloody selfish that's what it was!"

"Oh Joby, you don't mean that", Glynis came back into the room and crouched by his chair.

"And don't push your tits into my face, I've got enough problems without that!" said Joby.

"By going there we're trying to avoid all of that happening again", said Glynis "And we do understand what you go through. No one ever doubts that it's not easy living with the Vanquisher. And if it's any comfort I've often felt that he sometimes takes your strength for granted".

"Yeah well ..." said Joby, awkwardly "That's Kieran innit!"

"We'd better get some sleep, boys and girls", said Adam, putting the stopper back into the decanter and then leaving the room.

"I understand everything", said Glynis, gathering up her skirts and sitting on Adam's chair "Love is something we can't control. And don't look so alarmed, I'm not on about me and thee".

"I know", said Joby "Life's complicated don't you think?"

"Very much so", said Glynis "I think I'll have a whisky too now!"

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