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By Sarah Hapgood

Everyone was still anchored out at sea late morning the following day. Adam and Julian took out the skiff and rowed over to the yacht in order to have coffee with Glynis on the sun-deck.

"So how are the newly-weds this morning?" she asked.

"Hopefully hard at work washing all the bedding", said Julian "the little bastard's got peach juice and ice-cream all over everything, and the rest of us had to sleep in it!"

"Sounds wild", Glynis laughed.

"Hm", said Julian "I was hoping Bengo would calm down a bit now he's respectably married, but he seems even more excitable than ever".

Leon bounced up to them like a rubber ball and hopped about from foot to foot, whilst gabbling at them. He was fasincated by Adam's nipple-rings, and wanted to know if having them put in had hurt.

"At first", said Adam "But it wore off after a couple of days".

"Maisie back at the big house was got pierced ears", said Leon "She wears little gold rings in them like that. I'd hate to have my nipples pierced though".

"I'm relieved to hear it!" said Glynis.

"Why did you have them done?" said Leon "Was it for a purpose?"

"Oh yes", said Julian "When he's got his chain on you see, I can lead him around by it".

"In your dreams!" said Adam.

"That's what Uncle Joby always says!" Leon yelped in amusement "He says a lot of funny things, really rude things sometimes".

"Yes, and I could wring his neck for them!" said Glynis "Particularly when you take great pleasure in repeating them!"

Over on the sloop Hoowie and Farnol were scrutinising Glynis in her swimsuit, through binoculars. Bengo and Bardin meanwhile were reluctantly hard at work at various wash-tubs, laundering the sheets, watched lazily by Joby, Kieran and Lonts, who was contentedly sucking on his pipe.

"This isn't much of a honeymoon doing this", said Bengo.

"Reminds me of the 'Love In The Laundry' sketch", said Bardin.

"If we ever perform that again, I want to play the wife-beating laundry-owner", said Bengo, glowering at Tamaz, who had imperiously added most of his extensive underwear collection to their pile.

Tamaz wasn't too enamoured of Bengo's suggestion, and retaliated by deftly upending him head-first into the tub of soapy water. Everyone else laughed, especially Lonts, who sounded like a demonic Father Christmas.

"I always say Tamaz should have been a clown", said Bardin, helping Bengo to his feet.

"There's fucking soapy water everywhere!" Bengo spluttered.

Bardin tipped a large bowl of clean water over him, and Bengo shook himself like a dog.

"Are we missing some entertainment over here?" said Farnol.

"Huh, I thought you were too busy leering at Glynis", said Tamaz.

"We just like to have something different to look at occasionally that's all", said Farnol "After all, we know every litte inch of you, every skin pore on your face, every hair up your nostrils".

"I haven't got hair up my nostrils", said Tamaz, haughtily.

"Of course you have", said Joby "Everybody has, that's what keeps the inside of our noses warm. Otherwise we'd keep getting colds all the time".

"Right, drinkies!" said Hillyard, carrying up a large glass jug of a bright green liquid, plus a bundle of straws "This is another new cocktail recipe I'm trying out".

"I've suddenly gone teetotal", said Joby.

"No you haven't", said Hillyard, placing the jug on deck and handing out the straws.

"That one you made the other day tasted like it had lighter fuel in it!" said Joby.

"This one HAS got lighter fuel in it!" said Kieran, spluttering.

"No it ent!" said Hillyard "Someone go and round up Toppy. He said he was anxious to see how it turned out".

"Yeah, just before he jumped ship!" said Joby.

"Go and find Toppy, Bengo", said Lonts.

Bengo gave a longsuffering sigh and went below deck.

Toppy was in the middle of wax-polishing Julian's desk. He had removed all the objects from it and dumped them on the unmade bed, and was no industriously hard at work, wearing a green canvas pinny over his immaculate white vest.

"I'm not sure I want to go up on deck", said Toppy, sulkily.

"Why, are we too uncouth for you or something?" said Bengo.

"Tamaz is giving me a hard time at the moment", said Toppy "He keeps teasing me, in a horrid way, and I don't know what I've done to upset him".

"You worry too much", said Bengo "All it is is that Tamaz has scented blood. He's guessed there's something you're embarrassed about, and won't let up about it. Just call his bluff and admit it, and he'll soon get bored. God, it can't be that hard to admit you fancy me!"

Toppy looked as though he wanted to fall through the floor with embarrassment.

"But I don't want to fancy you!" he cried.

"No, I'm not refined enough am I?" said Bengo "Although I'm the height of sophistication compared to Tamaz! Anyway, I don't fancy you very much, you're too prissy, and you irritate me as much as I irritate you, so we're all square and even".

"It's just an animal thing that I feel for you", said Toppy.

Bengo laughed.

"Shut up", said Toppy, swabbing the desk-top, aggressively.

"If you'd just accept yourself a little more, you'd wouldn't half find life a lot easier", said Bengo.

"I can accept myself", Toppy protested "I'm better than I used to be, and that's all down to Tamaz. He liberated me".

"I know", Bengo sighed "He tends to be good at that".

"It's your body that turns me on", said Toppy, candidly "I like to touch it, but nothing else would work b-because ... because I'm a masochist I guess. I like to worship. I-it stops me being that sneering snob you think I am. It makes me a better person. And you're too nice really to demand someone worships you. You haven't got any ego at all".

"Whereas Tamaz has one a mile wide!" said Bengo.

"He's so full of zest", said Toppy "I don't think I could ever get bored with him. Even when we're old I'll still want to look after him. But I'll look after you too".

"You'll let me out of my kennel sometimes will you?" said Bengo, sarcastically.

Toppy leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips.

"Bengo! You've been married one whole day and you're already playing around!" Julian's voice made them both jump out of their skin.

"J-Julian", Toppy gulped "We didn't hear you come back".

"Evidently", said Julian, kicking off his flat shoes "Get this finished, it's all smeary".

Toppy set back to work, frantically. Bengo whispered to him that Hillyard wanted him to try out his new cocktail recipe.

"Stop canoodling, Bengo!" said Julian, rummaging through the stack of items on the bed "You should know by now that I've got eyes in the back of my head!"

"It wasn't Bengo's fault", said Toppy "I kissed him, you see ..."

"Where anything to do with sex is concerned, Bengo cannot be trusted", said Julian "If he's not out of here in 10 seconds I'll give him a good paddling!"

Bengo looked hopeful.

"Better still, I'll get Bardin to do it", said Julian.

Bengo looked even more hopeful.

"LEAVE!" Julian roared, causing Bengo to sprint out of the room "Toppy, where have you put my cigar box?"

Bardin was now in the corridor that ran below the main deck, hanging pillow cases over a clothes-horse, because he had run out of room to dry them on deck.

"Do you think if I leave all this here, someone'll walk into it?" said Bardin.

"Bound to", Bengo collapsed against him in a fit of giggles.

"What have you been up to now?" said Bardin.

"Toppy was upset, because Lady Friggin' Tamaz has been giving him a hard time", said Bengo "So I was 'commiserating' with him, and Julian came in, and said he'd get you to paddle me!"

"Yes, and I damn well will too!" said Bardin, fiercely "And somehow I doubt it'll be the last time I'll do that, not by a long way!"

"Oh Bardy", Bengo gasped, delightedly "I do love it when you're strict with me!"

When Kieran and Joby walked past a few minutes later, they saw Bengo and Bardin rolling around in the hay-store. Kieran unobtrusively closed the door, shutting them in.

"They're worse now they're married than they were before!" said Joby.

Kieran didn't reply, instead he goosed Joby's backside all down the corridor.

Whilst the clowns were sleeping in the hay, Tamaz had gone into the goats' pen next door, where Mieps was sleeping on a camp-bed. As he approached the bed, Tamaz could see that Mieps was having a nightmare, quivering and shaking in his sleep. Tamaz nudged him tentatively, and Mieps woke up with such a start that Tamaz instinctively backed away.

"What was the dream?" said Tamaz, when Mieps had come round fully to consciousness "Tell me".

"Everything was so dark and cold", said Mieps, sitting up "The darkness was so intense. Someone gave me a glass jar. It had a thing inside it, a creature of some sort, something that I just knew I didn't want to see. They took the lid off the jar, and made me look in at this thing. It was large and black. I'm not sure if it was solid or not, but it had tentacles".

"The essence of evil", said Tamaz, sitting down next to him "That's what it sounds like to me. Kieran and Joby had to walk into it after Father Gabriel was killed".

"That must've taken some balls", said Mieps "I didn't even want to look at this thing, let alone touch it in any way!"

He shuddered and Tamaz nuzzled up against him. He gently pulled open Mieps's shirt and kissed his breasts. Mieps gave a heartfelt sigh of gratitude and kissed him in return.

"I'm fed up with this!" Joby roared, standing at the entrance to the food-store "Everytime I look in here, there's someone doing something they shouldn't. Out! Out!"

He chased Hoowie out of the food-store, and then out of the galley, watched by a perplexed Kieran.

"What was he doing?" said Kieran, after Hoowie had gone.

"There's a small hole in the wall in there", said Joby "He was spying on Mieps and Tamaz in the room next door. I thought we respected each other's privacy around here, it's not as if we get much of it!"

"He's harmless, Joby", said Kieran.

"Yeah yeah", said Joby "Sometimes I even think there might be some intelligence lurking in him, but then he always goes and says or does summat that really gives me the hump. Other times ... other times he reminds me of me at his age, only with a lot more cheek!"

"Oh he's got plenty of that!" Kieran laughed.

"He seems too young to be with us though", said Joby.

"He's older than Toppy was when he first joined us", said Kieran "And the same age as Bengo. And besides, there's nowhere else he wants to go".

Joby went back to fixing the ice-cream dessert he was making for Tamaz.

"Am I going to get a bit of that?" said Kieran.

"No point, you wouldn't eat it", said Joby, dourly.

"You haven't asked me", said Kieran, hurtfully.

"Well in that case ..." Joby winked at him "You might be lucky".

At daybreak Hillyard, Mieps and Rumble went up on deck to check things over and discuss the weather prospects for the day ahead, and found everything blanketed in thick fog, which was so dense even Codlik's yacht couldn't be seen. They instantly went back below, and Hillyard woke Julian to inform him.

"How bad is it?" said Julian, sleepily.

"Bad enough for me to lock our cabin door and go back to bed", said Hillyard.

"You're jumpy", said Julian "Why?"

"I don't like fog-banks at sea", said Hillyard "They remind me of us being marooned on Gabriel's yacht".

"There's nothing to worry about", said Julian, impatiently "No voodoo witch-doctors are going to start tap-dancing overhead!"

Hillyard muttered something unintelligible.

"You're being a nervy old woman", said Julian, teasingly.

"Don't go asking me for a massage later!" Hillyard snapped, and rolled over, pulling the duvet away from Julian as he did so.

"The mood you're in I wouldn't dream of it!" said Julian.

The fog hung around all morning, marooning the two vessels as effectively as though they were stuck in thick treacle. Codlik stamped around his yacht, chafing at their lack of progress. Glynis, who had spent many years living on a barge, told him that this kind of bad weather simply had to be endured until it cleared, and there was no point him keep going on about it.

At lunchtime the fog suddenly rolled back as steadily and mysteriously as it had arrived. It didn't disperse gradually, as fog normally does, but instead rolled itself back like a carpet until it disappeared out of sight. Codlik watched it in astonishment, and then turned his attentions to the sloop, which was showing no signs of life at all.

"I hope nothing's wrong", said Brinslee.

"We'll go over there and see", said Codlik.

Glynis went with them in their skiff, leaving Dolores to play cards with Leon. They moored the skiff alongside the sloop, and then climbed aboard using the wooden ladder that hung over the side. The entire boat was eerily silent, and when Codlik went to try the cabin door he found it locked. After a moment's panic he finally managed to rouse Ransey, who greeted him holding his gun.

"I don't know who's more jumpy", said Ransey "You or us!"

"Has the fog gone then?" said Hillyard.

"Yes, didn't you know?" said Codlik.

"We went back to sleep", said Ransey.

Codlik was annoyed that he had been caused undue alarm over nothing at all, and was even more annoyed when the Indigo-ites didn't apologise for their lazy, unconcerned behaviour. They all woke up gradually, and began to drift about to their various tasks. Hillyard went straight to the hold to see to the animals. Julian went up on deck to walk around in a lordly manner. Adam and Joby went to the galley to prepare breakfast.

Glynis was chatting to Finia in the cabin, and Codlik felt at a loss as to what to do with himself. He tried to stroll purposefully down the corridor, but this was a bit hard to do when it wasn't his boat and he had nothing to do there. The Indigo-ites had bought a cockeral in Aspiriola and he was also ambling down the corridor, only with a lot more purpose than Codlik felt he was managing!

Tamaz came out of the heads and was instantly cornered by Hoowie, who had been lying in wait for him outside the door. Hoowie was insisting on a kiss.

"I'll lift you up if you like", he said "As you're so much shorter than me".

"No I might not get away from you again", said Tamaz "You can have one small kiss. A very small one".

"Hah, you were opening your mouth then", said Hoowie, triumphantly, after the kiss had been exchanged "You were trying to get your tongue into mine. Admit you fancy me. I turn you on!"

"I'll have to think about it", said Tamaz, grandly "And stop spying on me and Mieps, you sad jerk!"

"I just wanted to know what you guys did together", said Hoowie.

"That's got nothing to do with you", said Tamaz "It's not your business".

"Of course it's my business", said Hoowie "Everything round here is my business!"

"I hope the hens start laying again soon", said Joby, cracking eggs into 3 large frying-pans on the stove in the galley "We'll run out of these ones we bought back in town pretty soon".

"The hens always go off their lay a bit when we're at sea", said Adam, who was stirring up the mixture for buckwheat pancakes "They'll be fine when we get home".

"That new cockeral ent up to much", said Joby "Not one single cock-a-doodle-doo out of him since we got him".

"Well as long as he gets on with impregnating his harem that's all that matters", said Adam.

"He don't show much inclination for that either!" said Joby "Just drifts around in a world of his own all the time, looking gormless. Reminds me of Lonts".

"Just for that, you can scrub the frying-pans today!" said Adam "Oh hello Codlik, didn't see you there. Are you, Glynis and Brinslee joining us for breakfast?"

"We had ours several hours ago", said Codlik, primly.

"You people are such marvels, you work so hard", said Adam, who was being extremely sarcastic, but it was barely noticeable under his polite upper-crust tones "I don't know how you fit everything into one day, I really don't!"

Farnol came down the wooden steps from the deck, and began his relay mission of carrying 3 or 4 plates at a time up to the trestle table in the open air above.

"That fog last night was weird, wasn't it?" said Joby.

Codlik wasn't sure if Joby was addressing him or Adam, so he didn't reply. In actual fact, Joby wasn't addressing any one person in particular. Over the years he had got used (like they all had) to throwing a remark randomly into the space around him, and waiting to see who picked it up.

"There always seems to be weird weather out here", said Adam "Some of the storms we've watched from the old lighthouse have been quite spectacular".

"You know, it wouldn't surprise me if there was something in that fog", said Joby "Perhaps we'll all start shrinking, like in 'The Incredible Shrinking Man'. He got caught in a weird fog-bank out on his yacht".

"That is a cheering thought, Joby", said Adam "I don't fancy battling with giant spiders in a cellar at my age!"

Codlik decided to leave, and had to all but forcibly eject Glynis from the cabin, as she was now engrossed in looking at some of Finia's homemade jewellery. She humoured Codlik as though he was a tiresome spoilt child who had to be given attention, and made it quite clear that she would be leaving the sloop reluctantly. As was Brinslee, who had been optimistic that he might be able to sit down to his second breakfast of the morning. Not only that but Bengo, wearing only a very skimpy pair of briefs, was washing his hair in a tub on the forward deck, and this was providing Brinslee with some very worthwhile entertainment.

"That's better", said Bengo, flinging back his wet mane "My head itched all night. Must have been all the soap powder left in my hair".

"Make the most of it", said Ransey "We're conserving the fresh water from now until we get back to the Bay. You know the rule ..."

"No poncey things like hairwashing and showers!" the others chorused.

"Is it all out?" said Bengo, as Bardin inspected his hair.

"Yep", said Bardin.

"Out in one rinse!" said Bengo "It used to take about 3 or 4 to get the remains of a custard pie out".

"Probably 'cos you used to get hit with so many", said Farnol.

"Don't remind me!" said Bengo.

"You fellas should come and entertain us at Port West sometime", said Brinslee "Our local flea-pit could do with some new talent in it. We get sick of seeing the same old faces all the time".

"Perhaps we should think about that for in a few month's time", said Julian "When the hurricane season rolls round again".

"I'll make sure I have a front row seat", said Brinslee.

"That's all you'll be getting", Julian muttered.

Over the next couple of days Codlik became increasingly down in the dumps. His inner feelings were still in turmoil over Mieps, and yet at the same time he didn't want to hurt Glynis. She was still one of the most beautiful women he had ever met, and he knew how lucky he was to have her. She wasn't only attractive, but was a superb mother. Watching her with Leon was a joy. It annoyed him greatly that loving her didn't prevent him from fancying Mieps. His emotional development had been stunted by his upbringing in a male-only world, and he sometimes found it hard to adjust to the numerous grey areas of love and sex.

This wasn't all that was depressing him though. He became increasingly cantankerous regarding the Indigo-ites and their lifestyle. Back at the Bay once more, he criticised everything, and moaned endlessly about their lack of responsibility and nil concern for duty (duty towards what though wasn't clear). All this grumbling and carping concealed one thing: Codlik didn't want to go home either. He would never have admitted it, not even to himself, but he wanted to stay at the Bay as much as Leon did. Not only that, but he had also enjoyed his jaunts to the Village of Stairs and Aspiriola with the Indigo-ites, and was passionately envious of their lifestyle.

Unfortunately, Codlik had been in positions of great responsibility since his teens. Duty and conscientiousness were his watchwords, the concrete basis of his own personal philosophy. It was unthinkable to him that he could let go a little, and just have a good time instead. He was bored though at the thought of going back to the big house. He could happily spend the rest of his days walking with Glynis along the beach, and teaching Leon how to fish. And with the elegant Dolores there too, and now big, jovial Brinslee as well, he quietly wished he could make the rest of the world go hang. They could all make their own Eden at the Bay. It was a nice dream, but he knew that was all it could be. He wasn't an Indigo-ite, and that was all there was to it. He could be a lay brother, but not a fully inducted member of the order.

Glynis and Leon meanwhile acted as though they had lived there for years. Glynis had entirely lost the shrewishness caused by the numerous duties and small worries put on her at the big house, and was bouncy, cheerful Glynis again. The hearty, healthy girl next door. In the mornings she would sit in the stone cottage, combing and plaiting her yellow hair into a manageable style, whilst Adam prepared berries and vegetables across the table from her. Then for the rest of the day she would take Leon swimming, or help Joby with his garden, or go horseback riding with Hillyard in the forest.

No one worried about her being alone with either Joby or Hillyard these days, not even Tamaz. Glynis and Joby seemed to have genuinely reached an understanding. They had gone through a pain barrier, and were now thankfully back at their old level of being good friends, spending hours talking about tomato plants and potatoes.

With Hillyard it wasn't quite so simple. Adam strongly suspected that they did get up to high jinks in the forest, but they were both incredibly discreet, and never remarked or revealed anything as to what they were doing. Adam knew though that he wouldn't be at all surprised if Glynis fell pregnant again in the near future!

The visitors hung around until the middle of May, constantly trying to find excuses to delay leaving. Much as they were good company and relatively trouble-free though, they were still Visitors, and the Indigo-ites knew they wouldn't be able to relax completely until they'd gone. With Leon around some of their more debauched activities had to be seriously curtailed. They took the visitors for a picnic down to Midnight Castle, where Leon was captivated by the maze, but it was a very decorous affair compared to what they were used to doing down there.

The Indigo-ites were a hedonistic order of monks, who took in guests occasionally, but still mentally kept them on the other side of a barrier, as effectively as Medieval monks allowed visitors into their church services, on condition they stayed on the other side of a screen.

The day arrived though when Codlik decided they couldn't put off going home any longer. As soon as he was told, Leon went to the vegetable garden to see Uncle Joby, who had rapidly become his very favourite uncle. Joby's crochety attitude, which could be such a sore trial for adults, appealed to Leon. Joby was frank, he didn't talk in code like so many adults did, he didn't insist on politeness at all times, or being nice to people he didn't like. All those hypocritical things that small children abhor about adults! Joby was a walking dictionary of new and fascinating swear-words, which Leon looked forward to spreading around the estate when he got back. Joby was also an endless font of exciting and amusing anecdotes about his extraordinary life. He told Leon about his own time, and some of the amazing technology they had had then. Leon also listened with glee to tales of how atrociously saintly Uncle Kieran had behaved when he was younger.

"He was worse than anyone!" said Joby "He once fed me magic mushrooms just to get his leg over me!"

"What are magic mushrooms?" said Leon.

"They're mushrooms you can eat, but they play tricks with you", said Joby "Make you see things, a bit like having really dodgy moonshine liqour. Don't you ever go looking for any. They scared me to death. I thought I was going blind".

"And Kieran made you eat those?" said Leon "Just because he wanted to kiss you?"

"Yeah, it all happened in the desert beyond Lixix", said Joby "He was a real unscrupulous little bastard, good training for when he became President!"

"Did he get into trouble for it?" said Leon.

"Good and proper", said Joby "Adam smacked his arse until it was raw. Not that Kieran cared, it's never bothered him".

The tales that Leon enjoyed hearing the most though were about the long march they had all made along the Great Desert Road, when they had travelled up from the island so that Kieran could oust the evil Father Gabriel from the presidency. The swarms of locusts, the Satanic vampires, the Palace of Shells in Pepuaah, the circus, and them all living in the wagon, it was all grist to Leon's fertile imagination. Joby never got tired of telling him either. He liked to relive those days, to recall when he and Kieran were very young, and had been the wayward brats. At this safe distance of several years, even the terrors seemed merely exciting.

It mattered a lot to Leon that Joby always had time to spend on recalling these memories. Although he was treated with great affection by everyone up at the big house, they didn't normally have much time to talk to him. The maids, wrapped in their stiff white aprons, would pet him and make a fuss of him, and then sweep off to do something much more pressing (eat, usually). They didn't like him asking too many questions ("He's always wanting to know things", they could complain "We've got more important things to do than answer questions all day"), and they always stopped a particularly absorbing conversation if they thought he was listening. At the Bay no one ever did anything like that.

Brinslee was also doing the rounds of saying goodbye. He came upon "Little Lonts" sitting by the camp-fire in the clearing, with his pipe grasped in his huge fist. Brinslee couldn't get over how grave and formidable Lonts had become these days. Gone was the rather precocious, spoilt baby of the family. He no longer had temper tantrums that filled everyone around with fear, those frustrated rages that had shaken the Ministry H.Q during Kieran's Presidency, when his child's mind had had trouble grasping the irrationalities and unfairnesses of the grown-up world.

Lonts no longer ran away when he got upset, instead he went for rather stately rambles in the forest and glared fiercely at anyone he met. He still had spectacular domestic quarrels with Adam, but Lonts no longer wrecked the furniture during them, or had to be slapped until he calmed down. When he had sulks they now lasted for hours, not days.

He was capable of enormous tenderness. When Adam or Joby got tired from working in the galley, he soothed and cared for them. He freely admitted that he was waiting for the day when Adam would be so old he would be incapable of doing Anything for himself, and then Lonts would do Everything. He treated Tamaz like bone china, and sympathised with his worst excesses. Lonts never teased him or told him to shut up, and unlike most of the others, had never once raised his hand to him. Lonts was the only one whom Tamaz never cheeked.

With the clowns Lonts was altogether different. He treated them like puppies, or bear-cubs, which was how he liked to think of them. If they were scrapping or in his way, he would grab them roughly with one hand and toss them somewhere else. He never had to worry about hurting them because, as they always proudly admitted, they knew how to fall.

When Brinslee neared the camp-fire this morning Bengo was also nearby, wearing his notorious bum-cleavage dungarees.

"You know I really hope you take up my offer to come and perform in Port West", said Brinslee "You'd go down a storm, and it'd be a shame if a great talent like yours never did another turn on stage".

"Bengo is really talented", said Lonts "Show Brinslee your spider-walk, Bengo. He's never seen that".

"It's a bit restricting to do in dungarees", said Bengo "I'll have to take them off".

"You'll keep them on!" said Bardin, coming over with Farnol.

"O.K", Bengo sighed "I'll keep them on".

He got down on the ground and did his acrobatic crawl.

"It's one of those things that looks so easy, and yet few can do", said Brinslee, in amazement "Didn't I just say you had a great talent?"

"It requires no great talent to be on the receiving end of custard pies", said Bengo, mournfully, getting back onto his feet.

"Wha-a-at?" said Bardin, in disbelief "Since when was that all you did?! Here, let's show him some of our acrobatics routines".

They performed a short routine, which entailed Bengo clambering over Bardin, standing on his shoulders, handing down his back, and coming up headfirst through his legs, and also being spun around like a figure skater. It required a lot of flexible muscle on Bengo's part, and a lot of concentration and hidden strength on Bardin's part, who after all was no taller or broader than his partner, which was really what made it so impressive to watch.

"See", said Bardin "Not a custard pie in sight. You were a brilliant clown", he slapped Bengo's rump "I wouldn't have partnered you all those years if you weren't!"

"B-but Bardy", said Bengo "You used to say I was a dork!"

"Because you got quite enough puffing up from the punters", said Bardin "Who only put up with me so that they could watch you".

"Yeah, but Bengo wouldn't have had much of an act without you", said Farnol.

"That's very true, Bardy", said Bengo, solemnly "I would have been just another acrobat with good legs".

"So I take it the great skill of clowning is strength and fitness?" said Brinslee.

"Ah no, the secret of clowning is to exaggerate everything", said Bardin, as Bengo began to prance around him like a conjurer's assistant, making grand presentation gestures "Every movement, every gesture, has to be exaggerated, so that, as Ully used to tell us, those at the back ..."

"CAN SEE WHAT WE'RE DOING!" Bengo and Farnol helped him finish off with a grand shout.

Julian rounded everyone up that afternon, to see their visitors off, including having to drag out Tamaz, Toppy and Hoowie from the cabin, who were engaged in a threesome. Tamaz hadn't wanted Hoowie in with them at first, but had been brought round to the idea by Toppy, who said that Hoowie had "a lot of inner grace when it comes to sex". To Tamaz's pleasent surprise, this turned out to be true. It was the one and only area of his life where Hoowie wasn't boorish. When it came to lovemaking he was gentle and considerate, as though this was the one area where he could confidently redeem himself for all his other failings. No wonder he was so anxious to get it off with everyone he met! It was as if he was saying "I know you think I'm a right git now, but you'll like me after this, I promise you".

The yacht finally left at sunset, delayed by Glynis deciding at the last minute to give them a very generous gift of some crates of supplies from their hold. These had to be unloaded first, and then the yacht set sail. Brinslee (who was going back to Toondor Lanpin with them) stood on the top deck with Leon, Dolores and Glynis. All of them waving white pillowcases as they departed.

"I wonder why Codlik doesn't wave at us too", said Adam, who was sitting on the remains of an old fence with Kieran.

"Having a sulk somewhere I expect", said Joby.

"Why?" said Adam.

"I wonder!" said Joby, looking pointedly at Mieps, who was sitting on one of the crates, cleaning his fingernails with a penknife.

Mieps flicked his tongue in reply.

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