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By Sarah Hapgood

"What on earth is the matter with you this evening?" said Julian, three hours later "If I'd wanted to have such wooden sex I'd have taken the ironing-board to bed with me!"

"I'm sorry", Hillyard climbed wearily out of Julian's bunk and reached for the brandy bottle "I've got a lot on my mind at the moment".

"It's not your mind I was after!" Julian rasped "Oh bring the bottle over here. We might as well get drunk together. And you can at least give me an explanation. I thought I could count on you to fire on all cylinders, but it seems not".

"I wish everyone in the world was like you, Julian", Hillyard leaned back against the pillow and propped the brandy bottle between them "I sometimes think if I could've met someone like you, I might have stood a chance of having a fulfilled adult relationship. I wouldn't be such a failure at it then".

"What are you blithering about?" said Julian "You have met someone like me. I'M me! You've probably had a far longer sexual relationship with me than you've had with anyone else".

"No probably about it, it's true", said Hillyard "But you can hardly count".

"It seems I never do", said Julian "I resent that remark, why don't I count?"

"Because you're with Adam".

"Look, if Adam was given a stark choice betwen me and Lonts, I can assure you it wouldn't be Lonts who was given the boot! What is it you're after, Hillyard?"

"I want to love someone just like everyone does", said Hillyard "But it never works. I can't seem to give enough".

"Because you've got it all wrong, that's why", said Julian "You want someone to take care of you, but instead you take up with all these lame ducks who want you to look after them! Good old dependable Hillyard, built like a brick outhouse, he'll always defend me! When the truth of the matter is that you want to be the clinging vine, not the strong stake. Am I right?"

"No one's ever put it into words before", said Hillyard, pouring out the brandies "Much good it'll do me".

"Oh for pity's sake, you're as bad as Finia", said Julian "I went through all this with him. I want a daddy, that was all I heard for years. It never occurred to him that I was his daddy! And you're the same. It would work well between you and me. We get on fine, we excite each other, we have good sex ... most of the time. And I'm quite happy to be your strength, if you'll look after me in my old age, which I'm sure you'll do excellently. You were born to be an old man's nursemaid. And you won't object to potty old Adam being in my life, anymore than I'll object to Bengo being in yours. How can I, when I've him myself!"

"What do we do about Bengo though?" said Hillyard, quietly "He won't like this".

"He's young, he'll recover", said Julian "He's got time on his side. More time than you've got, and a lot more time than I've got! This is a good deal, Hillyard".

"Yes, but you don't love me", said Hillyard, emotionally.

"Who says?" said Julian.

Hillyard propped himself on his elbow and looked down at Julian.

"Good God", said Hillyard "All these years I've wandered around, I thought it'd never happen to me. And it happens like this".

"The fanfare and trumpets only happens in books", said Julian "There is a huge knack in life to just recognising love when it appears, and that's not as easy as it sounds. So, are you going to run away from it or not?"

"I know I'm daft at times, but I'm not completely bloody stupid!" Hillyard began to cry softly "This feels right, and that's all that counts". *

"You can put that down", said Joby, walking into his cabin to find Tamaz playing with the pistol from his waistcoat.

"Nothing to get narked about", said Tamaz "You've taken the bullets out of it, I checked. A gun can't cause any damage on its own. Look, I'll show you".

He put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger several times. Joby snatched it away from him and then slapped his face.

"Even if the barrels empty I don't want you touching this, understand?" he said, sharply.

"I wasn't going to do anything", Tamaz began to get weepy "It's just I saw the gun poking out of your pocket, that's all. I'm a hunter. I'm interested in guns, the different types and how they work".

"I don't care", said Joby, tossing the gun onto Lonts's bunk "You frighten me with your recklessness sometimes. I don't want to lose you, Tamaz. I love you so much. I'm obsessed with you. I can't get you out of me head".

Tamaz stared at him inscrutably. Joby traced Tamaz's jawline with his fingertips.

"You're so beautiful", he said, softly.

"Do you remember when you told me you thought I was ugly?" said Tamaz.

"I've seen you look both, it's true", said Joby "But that's because you're so extraordinary. At this moment though you're beautiful. I can't stop looking at you".

Tamaz put his arms round Joby's neck and kissed him on the lips. They were interrupted by Adam, Lonts and Kieran all filing into the room. Ransey and Finia could also be heard moving about on the other side of the hole in the wall.

"There's a gun on my bed", said Lonts.

"Well don't shout or everyone'll want one", Kieran yawned.

"What's it doing lying around?" said Adam.

Ransey peered through the hole in the wall like a disgruntled neighbour looking over a fence.

"Guns aren't toys you know", he barked "They're dangerous weapons".

"You don't say!" said Joby, putting the gun back in his waistcoat pocket "You'll be telling me next people can get killed by 'em! Before everyone goes over the top, read my lips, it's got no bullets in it! Do you think I'm daft or summat?"

"There's really no answer to that", said Adam, testily "Look, for heaven's sake, there's no room in this cabin if we all insist on standing around. Tamaz, you can get into bed for a start".

"I'm not sleeping in that!" Tamaz kicked the camp-bed contemptously.

"You have to", said Joby "There's no room in our bunk".

"But it's not even a proper bed", said Tamaz, indignantly "Why can't Hillyard build me a bunk?"

"Because we're still waiting for him to fix the hole in the wall", Ransey snapped back "And the sooner it is fixed the better!"

"I don't know what he's complaining about", said Adam "There's only two of them in there. We are seriously over-crowded in here".

"Don't say that, Adam", said Lonts "I like it like this".

"You would", said Joby.

When Bengo and Toppy went into their cabin they found Hillyard and Julian both asleep in the same bunk. The brandy bottle was rolling around on the floor, and Hillyard had put his foot out to stop himself from falling off.

"Looks like you've got a bunk to yourself tonight, Bengo", said Toppy, gently retrieving the glasses from the bed and putting them on the wash-stand "I think it's better that way. It's not very hygienic sharing a bunk with someone".

"Toppy", Bengo sighed, mournfully "At this moment I couldn't give a flying fuck about hygiene!"

He slept alone in Hillyard's bunk and woke up soon after five to hear Julian and Hillyard talking in low whispers. It was a fairly innocuous conversation, mainly concerning Julian taking Hillyard out to lunch later that day, but it was all discussed in such a deeply personal and intimate way that Bengo's insecurity was roused even more. Hillyard gave a throaty chuckle at one point, and sounded more relaxed than he had in some while.

Bengo had no matinee at the Little Theatre to take his mind off his troubles that afternoon, and after the rehearsal he drifted around the centre of the town like a spectral waif. He went into the ramshackle amusement arcade and played the one-arm bandits. He had some luck on one, but when the jackpot came spilling out he found himself being hassled by a dim-witted old man, who tried to snatch some of the coins from the scoop. Bengo slapped him away, and then, finding his rage spilling out, he kicked and pounded the machine violently. In next to no time an ugly scene had developed, and he was being unceremoniously frog-marched from the building by the owner.

"I am sick and tired of having to call you in here and lecture you on your behaviour", said Julian, sitting down in the chair at his desk "First, you go around telling everyone that Kieran will be President again, which was blatantly untrue, then you ensure I'm the butt of Fradie's bigoted humour, on top of all that we have to put up with your endless sulks and tantrums, and now you're getting yourself slung out of amusement arcades! I'm disappointed in you, Bengo. I thought you had more self-discipline than that".

"But how am I supposed to feel?" Bengo wept "You've taken Hillyard from me!"

"Now let us get one thing absolutely understood", said Julian "Your position on this boat hasn't changed one jot. We are all extremely fond of you, including Hillyard. This is your home, and this cabin is your room. Whatever happens between Hillyard and myself is not a threat to you in any way".

"But I love Hillyard", Bengo threw himself on the floor and buried his face in Julian's knees. Julian sighed and pulled him back up onto his feet.

"Bengo", he said, gently "You are a very attractive man, and you work in a glamorous profession. As such I am pretty certain you'll never be short of sexual attention. You will have a long line of lovers in the future. But it's different now for Hillyard and me, and if there's one thing I've learnt in my old age it is that you have to grab happiness where you can. You're starting out in life, wanting passion and commitment in equal doses, whereas we're both looking for a comfort blanket, and we don't want heavy scenes and grand promises for the future. The older I get the more I feel that that's the province of the young".

"B-but it doesn't change anything, does it?" said Bengo "I mean, we'll all still be here".

"That is what I've just said", said Julian, patiently "Now for heaven's sake enjoy yourself. You won't always have a firm body and limitless energy you know! And take care of your career. I can't imagine old Hawkefish is going to be too pleased to hear that you're getting to be a confirmed trouble-maker. Now I've got a little job for you, to try and keep you out of trouble. Glynis is moing out of her barge for a couple of months whilst the cold weather is on. She's taking rooms in town. She needs help moving some tea-chests over, and I've volunteered you, Toppy and Lonts to help her".

They managed to get Glynis's things moved over before the worst of the evening's peasoupers drifted up from the river and settled on the town, with the fog-horns blasting eerily at regular intervals in the background. Once the fire was lit in her furnished room she offered them tea.

"Look at Toppy", said Lonts to Bengo. They were standing by the window whilst Toppy set the table for Glynis "All pleased with himself just because he's done some work".

"Don't be so hard on him, Lonts", said Bengo "He's not a bad kid".

"No, just boring", said Lonts.

"Hey Toppy", Bengo called over, teasingly "You make yourself indispensible like this, and Glynis'll want you to move in here".

Toppy cast a nervous look towards the back room, where Glynis was slicing cake.

"But she's only got one bedroom", he hissed, earnestly.

"Sex on the brain", said Bengo, out of the corner of his mouth.

"Joby's just gone past the window!" Lonts cried "I'll go out and tell him to come in".

Joby was frightened out of his wits by Lonts suddenly advancing on him out of the fog.

"For fuck's sake, Lonts", he bellowed "I thought you were a bloody Ghoomer!"

"Come and have a cup of tea with Glynis", said Lonts "You can't avoid her forever, you know".

"I wasn't trying to avoid her", said Joby "I just wanted to get home that's all".

"Have a cup of tea first", Lonts pulled him towards the building.

"Joby", said Glynis, as he walked into the room "Y-you've got a lot of magazines under your arm".

"Old back issues of gardening mags", said Joby "The last ones to come out of the City. Lady Red wanted some ideas for planning her garden".

"I wouldn't have thought she'd bother", said Toppy "Not when you consider the time it takes things to grow".

"Shut up, Toppy", said Lonts, sternly.

Toppy blushed and retreated into silence.

"I haven't seen you since you went away", said Glynis, sitting down opposite Joby at the table "You worried us all with your little adventure".

Joby felt irritated by this, as though he was being reproached by a possessive lover.

"Well it all happened so quick", he said, awkwardly "There was no time for explanations".

"It must have put the mockers on your little break", Glynis went on.

"No it wasn't so bad", said Joby "Anyway it had to be done. We couldn't risk the Virus getting round town".

"And Joby, Kieran and Tamaz had a week at the monastery afterwards", said Lonts, in all innocence "Joby enjoyed it so much he didn't want to come home".

"Indeed?" said Glynis.

"You know how it is", said Joby "Nice place to go for a bit of peace and quiet".

"All the monks were in love with Tamaz", Lonts giggled.

"Well I suppose they don't get much stimulation up there", said Glynis, rapidly abandoning any attempt at coyness and subtlety.

During the Equinox Fair she had convinced herself that she could cope with the situation of Joby (whom she deeply loved) preferring not just a man (Kieran) but also an hermaphrodite (Tamaz) to her! It had helped up til now that she had never considered trying to compete with Kieran, as she had always regarded herself as the solid reality in Joby's life, as averse to Kieran's etherealness. Tamaz, she had been able to dismiss as just plain loopy. And the evening when he'd taken his clothes off in the Hall of Mirrors had reinforced that feeling. It was hard to feel threatened by someone who was just so completely bonkers.

Since meeting them all at Myrtle's recently though she had had to revise her opinion and dreams somewhat. Tamaz was now a very very real opponent to her, and she could no longer hide from the fact that Joby regarded Tamaz as a very serious love affair. This hurt Glynis deeply, and it was getting harder for her to escape into that well-known refuge of all the love-lorn: her dreams. Desperately she looked for any sign that Joby would eventually tire of that ludicrous freak. She didn't see how in the long-term he could prefer a life with that spoilt, unstable nutcase to one of serenity and comfort with her. After all, men usually preferred a quiet life, didn't they? She believed that there simply had to come a point when Joby didn't want to put up with Tamaz's wildness anymore.

"I think Tamaz would cause a stir wherever he was", said Bengo, which wasn't exactly what Glynis wanted to hear "Hawkefish has been dropping hints that he'd like him at the Little Theatre as a living-model. You know, to stand at the side of the stage whilst some of the acts are on, like the Tattooed Lady does".

"It would be a good idea if I thought Tamaz could keep still for five minutes", said Joby "It'd be alright on one of his quiet days, but we never know when they're gonna be".

"I expect Tamaz's looks will fade very quickly", said Glynis "In his old age he'll probably look like a reptile".

"We all will if we live long enough", said Joby.

"I've heard it said that by the age of 40 we all get the face we deserve", said Glynis "After some of Tamaz's escapades I can't imagine he'll still be beautiful then".

"Well we've got nearly 20 years until we find out", Joby sighed.

"I can't understand why he doesn't show any interest in his children", said Glynis, desperately playing her ultimate female trump-card "I couldn't just completely put any children of mine out of my mind like that".

"Tamaz was very young when he had them", said Joby "And it's not even as if he chose to have 'em".

"It was all decided for him", said Lonts.

"Quite", said Joby "I thought you being a woman you'd sympathise with that, Glynis. The way he was used by a bunch of unscrupulous men".

He and Glynis had reached a verbal stalemate. Joby was saddened by it. Glynis wasn't usually bitchy by nature, and up until now she'd been caring and generous towards Tamaz. But now that Tamaz was a genuine threat and showed no sign of diminishing his hold over Joby, Glynis reacted with the hurt pride and dashed hopes of a woman scorned.

"I think I'd better be getting along", Joby rose to his feet "Kieran'll be wondering where I am. Thanks for the tea, Glynis".

"Aren't you cold?" said Kieran.

He had walked into his cabin to find Tamaz parading about in only a flimsy pair of pants and the blue beads the monks had given him.

"I don't feel the cold like you do", said Tamaz.

"I suppose not", said Kieran "Joby's not back yet. I wonder what's keeping him".

"Perhaps one of the women have got him", said Tamaz "It'd serve you right for going off and neglecting him. If it wasn't for me I expect he would. You owe a lot to me. Because I'm so exciting in bed he'll keep coming home. I'm doing you a service when you think about it".

Kieran deftly kicked him in the seat of his pants, and Tamaz whimpered.

"There", said Kieran "I've just done you a service in return! I can do without your poxy drivel. If we're going to settle down to any kind of a life together, you can cut out the snide remarks".

"It was only a joke", said Tamaz, sulkily.

"If that's an example of Ghoomer humour, then it's a good job the rest of you have died out!" Kieran exclaimed.

"I was just teasing you", Tamaz jiggled his beads in indignation "There was no need to over-react like that. I'm treated like a dog on this ship".

"Makes a change, you're normally complaining that you're treated like a worm!" said Kieran "Ach, I'm sorry. It's the fog, it's getting on me nerves, and Codlik keeps sending round umpteen messages saying he wants to talk to me about the Governors' meeting. As far as I can see there's nothing to talk about. Ransey's got all the preparations well underway. All the rest of us have to do is turn up".

"It's not long now is it?" said Tamaz, biting his fingernails nervously "Only a week til the Solstice, and then the meeting's a few days after that".

"There is no need for you to worry", Kieran gently took Tamaz's hand and kissed it "No one's going to harm you. You know you can trust me".

"I hate the sound of those fog-horns", said Tamaz.

"They can sound a wee bit mournful", said Kieran.

He gently pulled Tamaz towards him and they kissed each other on the lips.

"Would you like a little something to be going on with?" said Kieran, mischeviously "To tide you over until Joby gets back".

Tamaz flicked his long tongue in excited anticipation. Kieran leaned down and kissed his breasts. He caressed them lovingly and then slid his hand down Tamaz's body and tugged at his pants.

"I'll take your mind off that noise", Kieran whispered.

"Perishing out there", said Joby, climbing down the quarterdeck steps a short while later "That bloody fog's getting thicker if anything. You won't be able to see your hand in front of your face soon at this rate".

"We got Glynis moved just in time", said Lonts.

"She's a damn sight safrer in that flat that on a barge in this weather", said Joby "Anything could plough into us in this".

"Are you scaremongering as usual, Joby?" said Adam, appearing in the galley doorway.

"Is Kieran in?" said Joby.

"Yes, he got back not long ago", said Adam "He's in our cabin with Tamaz. They might be engaged in some horizontal yoga, if you get my meaning".

"I can't hear anything", said Lonts, pressing his ear against the door "They must've fallen asleep".

"Get away from there", said Joby, pulling him back "You're nothing but a voyeur. I'm going in to see 'em, and I don't want you following me into get a good butchers, alright?"

"Hardly anything to be fussy about", Lonts tutted.

"I don't care", said Joby "Take Toppy into the saloon and roast him over a hot gramophone!"

Joby left Lonts giggling and went into the cabin. The oil-lamp hanging from the hook in the ceiling was turned down low. Kieran's clothes lay on the floor, with Tamaz's pants and beads lying next to them. Joby pulled back the curtain round his bunk. Kieran was lying on his back as though in wait for him. Tamaz was lying on his side, facing the wall, and appeared to be asleep.

"I heard you come in", said Kieran "I've been trying to get up the energy to go to the heads and have a fag".

"You're more considerate than you used to be", Joby knelt on the floor next to the bunk "You'd have lit up in the old days and stank the place out for hours. Must be the female influence around here".

"You don't mind?" said Kieran.

"No", said Joby, simply "You're both got good taste! Have you worn him out then?"

"Seem to have", said Kieran.

Tamaz sat up and rubbed his eyes. He then glared at Joby accusingly.

"Where have you been?" he snapped.

"Having tea with Glynis", said Joby.

"How very civilised", said Kieran.

"She's been stuffing me up with strong tea, angel cake and bitchy comments", said Joby "And all the time I could've been back here having you two! That serves me right doesn't it!"

Julian had taken Hillyard for a late lunch at Myrtle's, after despatching Bengo to his chores. It was now seven in the evening and they were still there. Using the fog as an excuse, they had carried on drinking at the table.

"We'll go home when it clears", said Hillyard.

Needless to say it hadn't, and by now they were in the public lounge drinking coffee in an attempt to sober up.

"I don't fancy trying to get along the jetty in this", said Hillyard "We're bound to fall in. It's times like this I wonder why we live on a boat!"

"We won't get thrown out of here for several hours yet", said Julian, lolling next to him on the leather sofa "One never knows, we might be able to walk straight by then".

He looked around the room which resembled an old-fashioned gentlemen's club, with men snoring in armchairs.

"Good grief", said Julian "The House of Lords! Everyone pickled for posterity".

"Behave yourself", said Hillyard "Or I'll have to put you in your bath-chair and wheel you home".

"Merely commenting, old fruit", said Julian.

Mezlin came into the room and seated himself at one of the desks, moving the lamp closer to him as he put down a wad of papers.

"I see they let the riff-raff in", Julian muttered "The soft porn industry obviously pays well".

"He must be staying here then", said Hillyard "Perhaps Fradie's thrown him out".

"Or if he's got any sense he left of his own accord", said Julian, lighting up a cigar.

Codlik walked in soon after, and on noticing them came over to sit in a nearby chair.

"Hello Julian", said Codlik, warily.

"Hello Codlik", said Julian, warily.

"Enjoying your stay here?" said Hillyard.

"The rooms are a bit more basic than what we're used to", said Codlik "But it suffices".

He blinked rapidly as some of Julian's cigar-smoke wafted over him. Julian waved it away.

"We outlawed smoking in public places in the City", said Codlik, pursing his lips primly.

"I should think so too", said Julian "Filthy habit".

"Everytime you smoke you lose 3 years off your life-span", said Codlik.

"Three years?" Julian exclaimed "Don't be absurd. Going by that calculation I should have died before I was even conceived!"

"I think he means 3 minutes per smoke", said Hillyard "I read it in a newspaper once".

"You actually read a newspaper?" said Julian, in astonishment.

"I'm not sure now", said Hillyard "I think Joby might've read it out to me. He was probably trying to use it to scare Kieran into giving up".

"The amount Kieran smokes he should have pegged out years ago", said Julian "Even going by the 3 minutes ratio".

"That's very true", said Codlik "The way Kieran smokes surely means he'll die one day".

"I don't want to cause you unnecessary alarm, my dear chap", said Julian "But it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that we all will!"

"Yes alright, I know when I'm being ribbed", said Codlik "Has Kieran said anything to you about the Governors' meeting?"

"No need, it's all going ahead rather smoothly", said Julian "There will be a mass exodus from town on Christmas Eve, up to Woll's estate, and then returning home the day after Boxing Day".

"I know I'm chairing it", said Codlik "But nobody seems to know who is representing Toondor Lanpin. Half the people I speak to say you are, and the other half say Kieran".

"They're both right", said Julian "We'll take it in turns. I'll have to sit in anyway whilst Kieran's rollerskating".

"He's not still going to do that?" said Codlik, aghast.

"He enjoys it", Julian shrugged "And it's a popular part of the show".

"Very well", Codlik sighed "Did you receive a copy of the draft agenda I circulated as regards the running-order of the meeting?"

"Yes I think Ransey brought one home", said Julian, deciding to omit the fact that Toppy (for reasons best left known to himself) had drawn a detailed picture of a gas-stove all over it.

"I'm rather afraid you've drawn the short straw", Codlik chuckled "Your speech is scheduled for the post-Yule dinner spot. Still, I'm afraid someone had to go then".

"Speech?" said Julian "What speech?"

"All the governors have to give a speech", said Codlik "Outlining the current state of their region and their plans for its near future".

"Why?" said Julian "Isn't this whole wretched thing going to be turgid enough without that? And no one in their right mind is going to want to listen to either me or Kieran give a speech immediately after Christmas dinner! It sounds too ghastly for words!"

Fortunately a steward came in at that moment and informed Codlik that his table was ready.

"Saved by the bell", said Julian, as Codlik went off "Did you hear some of the dreadful language he was coming out with? 'Draft agenda I circulated as regards the running-order of the meeting'. How perfectly deadening. What a drone that man can be".

"It's not his fault", said Hillyard, rubbing his stomach contentedly "That's the only way he knows".

"We've got to work on him, that's for certain", said Julian "Come on, let's get out of here before he returns".

"Leave it out, he'll be hours yet", said Hillyard "They've only just taken him in".

"Don't you believe it", said Julian "Codlik probably dines on dry crackers and a glass of water, like Hitler!"

Mezlin suddenly jumped to his feet, arranged his wad of papers and began reading out a poem, so completely entranced in his own words that he was oblivious to his surroundings.

"I have seen a sight wondrous to behold!" he cried.

"He's obviously just been to the men's room", Julian muttered.

They both scrambled from the room, unable to endure the prospect of hearing anymore.

"I think he should stick to whips and chains in future", said Julian.

As they opened the main doors that led to the street, fog swirled in, and they also realised just how drunk they really were. They stumbled down the street in the vague general direction of the quayside. Blurry blobs of light from oil-lamps in windows and street-lamps glimmered in the gloom. As they passed the entrance to a narrow alley-way which went out onto the marshes, Julian felt something the size of a large dog brush his hand. Only trouble was, it wasn't furry but slimy.

"Let's find the bloody Indigo, Hillyard", he said, snatching his hand back in revulsion "We can't see what's lurking around in this fog".

The lights on the Indigo glimmered at the far end of the jetty.

"We're really going to have to move it closer to the quayside", said Hillyard.

They trod nervously along the jetty, and climbed up onto the deck with considerable relief. Adam was dismayed when they appeared in the galley in such a condition. He heard Ransey emerging from the heads, and implored him to help Hillyard into bed.

"I can't think of anything I'd much rather not do", Ransey snapped "He'll probably vomit over me!"

"Oh do be a sweetheart", said Adam "He's going to pass out if we don't lie him down soon. Please, Ransey!"

Ransey gave a longsuffering sigh and manoeuvred Hillyard roughly into his cabin.

"How long have we known each other, Ranz?" said Hillyard, hanging onto Toppy's bunk whilst Ransey unlaced his shoes for him.

"Too bloody long!" said Ransey.

"We are true friends, you and me", Hillyard prodded him.

"Don't count on it", said Ransey.

"No we are", said Hillyard "And do you know why? Hm? Because there is no sex involved".

"And it is going to stay that way!" said Ransey, very firmly.

"I have never felt the urge to kiss you", said Hillyard "Never".


"Not even when we were living on the island, and we used to go hunting together in the interior, with no clothes on. Anyone else, and I would have been all over you. I couldn't have resisted. But not you. And that is because you are a true friend. A very true friend. And I know this isn't a nice task for you".

"Oh think nothing of it", said Ransey, sarcastically.

"One good turn deserves another", said Hillyard "So anything you want doing, you just name it, o.k?"

"Alright then", said Ransey "Fix my bloody bedroom wall!"

"Haven't I done it yet then?" said Hillyard.

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