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By Sarah Hapgood

“You didn’t have to walk me home”, said Bardin “I was scarcely going to get into any trouble crossing the courtyard”.

“Be quiet, Bardin”, said Bengo, ushering him into their cabin with a firm smack on his rump “Are you staying on the ship for the rest of the day?”

“No I thought I’d go for a hike into the mountains”, said Bardin “Alright, I’m joking, yes I’m staying here”.

“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit”, said Bengo, reprovingly.

“I thought that was us actually!” said Bardin.

“Hopefully you’ll sleep better tonight now”, said Bengo, helping him off again with his coat and cap “I noticed you were very restless last night”.

“I had a bad dream”, said Bardin “I heard Crowley’s voice in it. I have no idea what he was on about. The usual rubbish people talk in dreams. Something about pockets of negative energy opening up all over the world”.

“Ooh”, said Bengo “I think you should have a chat with Kieran about that. In case it’s significant”.

“I did consider it”, said Bardin “But I didn’t want to send him off on some mad tangent”.

“It’s a risk”, said Bengo “But I still think you should talk to him”.

He kissed Bardin’s nose.

“Now try and relax”, he said “And if you’re still jumpy tonight I’ll whack you with the hairbrush. Make your shorts ping again!”

“It sounds like Crowley’s trying to communicate with you”, said Kieran “I should’ve realised he would try something like that”.

“He’s trying to spook me by the sounds of things”, said Bardin. He and Kieran were sitting in the armchairs on either side of the fireplace in his cabin.

“I’m not so sure it was just that”, said Kieran “He might be having something serious to say”.

“It’s a ruse”, said Bardin “To get us curious enough to go over there and see him”.

“I think we should leave the jury out for the time being”, said Kieran “And see what happens. I’ll stoke you up with some psychic protection. With that and the spanking you should be alright!”

“Oh you really smiled when you said that”, said Bardin “You must be loving the thought of me being chastised”.

“Hah!” said Kieran “It’s not real chastisement that you’re getting”.

“Oh yes it is”, Bardin spluttered “Julian whacked me with the paddle the other day!”

“You had two pairs of pants on!” said Kieran “I’d have got it on my bare arse! I’m starting to think I should wear sexy underwear too, I might be allowed to keep it on more!”

“Yours is pretty sexy”, said Bardin “Does Joby make you take it off all the time then?”

“No”, said Kieran “Depends how strict he’s feeling. I bet I get more hard-core thrashings than you do though”.

“All I know is I get my bum smacked on a very regular basis”, said Bardin.

“In your tight shorts you sexy beast”, said Kieran.

“We’re getting off-topic”, Bardin blushed.

“I can’t think of a better one”, said Kieran “We’re not going to leave off talking about spanking, to talk about bloody Crowley now are we!”

Bardin laughed.

“I’ll pour us some tea”, he said.

Adam, Joby and Bengo had returned to the galleon to prepare the evening meal. Joby was concerned about how Kieran may have reacted to Bardin’s dream, and lay in wait for Bardin to emerge from his cabin.

“I’m going to the heads”, said Bardin.

“You can’t be in that much of a hurry or you’d be walking faster”, said Joby “How did things go with Kieran earlier?”

“Why don’t you ask him?” said Bardin.

“Bardy, answer Joby’s questions!” Bengo shouted.

“You’re getting too damn bossy”, Bardin retorted.

“Now you know what I’ve had to put up with all these years!” said Bengo.

“I told him about the dream”, Bardin explained to Joby “He said it sounded as though Crowley was trying to warn us about something. I said I thought it might be a ruse to get us over there. He said we should stay open-minded about it, and then he gave me one of his psychic ritual blessings”.

“Is that all?” said Joby “He was in there ages”.

“Well he spent a lot of time winding me up”, said Bardin “Implied I was some kind of wimp, and that he got walloped more severely than I did. What a bloody nerve! Good job I have a sense of humour!”

“I spose he doesn’t have loads of starch protecting him”, said Joby “Not that I’m complaining mind you. We all love the feel of your starchy bum”.

“Can I go to the loo now?” said Bardin.

“You may proceed”, said Joby.

“Oh thank you!” said Bardin.

“Poor old basket”, Joby laughed, once Bardin had gone “We do put him through it”.

“It’s great”, said Bengo “He loves it. Though I am a little cross with him that he didn’t tell me about the dream earlier”.

“He didn’t get much chance”, said Joby “We had him otherwise engaged”.

“No, but he should have told me about it in bed”, said Bengo “I don’t want him going back to keeping things to himself, like he used to in the old days”.

There was some consternation over supper as to whether Crowley would try to contact Bardin again that night. Bardin became short-fused about it all.

“That’s enough”, he said, firmly “I suggest we all have an early night, and no playing the piano or the gramophone for half of it”.

He was pleasantly surprised to get no arguments about this, just Hillyard saying that he would go and lock all the outside doors and hatchways at once.

Just to make doubly sure they had an easeful night, Bengo took a hairbrush to Bardin’s behind once they were alone in their cabin. Bardin protested about this further onslaught on his dignity in one day.

“Be quiet, Bardin”, said Bengo, tightening his hold on him “You’re in no position to protest”.

He finished off by spanking him with his hand, and playfully pinging his shorts at the same time. It all had the desired effect. Bardin - in Bengo’s words - “slept like a baby”. Bardin had a noticeable hobble to his walk the next morning though.

Adam praised Bengo for his “masterful prowess” as they prepared breakfast.

“Ooh I love looking after little Pingy-Pants”, said Bengo.

“Little Pingy-Pants?” said Adam “Bardin seems to have acquired another nickname”.

“My favourite’s Captain Starchy”, said Joby “That really suits him”.

“I think we need to give the Club a rest for today though”, said Adam.

“Why?” said Joby.

“Just to leave the field open for Bengo”, said Adam “Just for today”.

“Julian’ll have summat to say about that”, said Joby.

“Oh Julian has something to say about everything”, said Adam “And Lo-Lo’s concerned that it might all get too much for Bardin. He’s so caring about the younger ones”.

“He’s a meddling old busybody you mean!” said Joby.

“Are you sure you should be climbing upstairs in your delicate condition?” said Hillyard, as Bardin joined him up on deck.

“I’m not pregnant!” said Bardin.

It was a very squally morning. The wind had moaned around the ship all night.

“Everything seems to have survived the gales alright”, said Hillyard “No damage. Just a couple of pot plants fell over. I’ve put them back together again. Joby won’t need to know”.

Bardin was distracted though, staring over to the far side of the lake.

“No sign of anything there either”, said Hillyard “I keep a watch on a regular basis. To see if he’s spying on us again”.

“Good”, said Bardin “I think I’ll pop down and have a word with Kieran”.

Kieran was sweeping the floor in his cabin when Bardin appeared.

“Bardin! Come in, love”, said Kieran, gently pulling him into the room.

Kieran propped the broom against the wall, and led him over to the sofa.

“How are you this morning?”

“Oh I’m fine”, said Bardin “No sign of Crowley I’m glad to say. I’ve just got a sore, funny behind that’s all. The sadistic little bastard didn’t have to take the hairbrush to me! Not on top of the spanking I’d had from Adam earlier in the day!”

“I expect he felt he’d better be thorough”, Kieran laughed, sitting down next to him on the sofa.

“He’s loving every minute of it”, said Bardin “He gets to be the bossy one”.

“Somehow I don’t think you’re ever going to stop being bossy”, said Kieran.

“One thing I’m not understanding about this Crowley business”, said Bardin “Why is he not trying to contact you on the astral plain?”

“I don’t wish to sound arrogant”, said Kieran “But perhaps he’s afraid he’s no match for me there”.

“Oh yes, I see what you mean”, said Bardin “I suppose it is reassuring to know that even Crowley realises he has limits!”

“Well he’s a very conceited man it is true”, said Kieran “But he’s not a stupid one”.

There was a slight pause where neither of them spoke. Kieran knew Bardin was about to say something though.

“What Crowley said about the negative patches breaking out all over the world”, he said “I have to confess I’m curious about it. What did he mean by that?”

“I’m curious too”, said Kieran “I suppose he’s being sufficiently cryptic in order to wet our interest”.

“Hm yes, I thought that too”, said Bardin “And it’s working!”

“Bardy, I can’t believe you’re saying this!” said Bengo, who was almost on the verge of tears “I never thought you’d get taken in by his tricks!”

“I’m not”, said Bardin “Bengo, listen to me”.

He gently propelled Bengo into one of the armchairs in their cabin. He then sat down nearby.

“Here’s the plan”, Bardin explained “We take the galleon over to the other side of the lake. Better than using the skiff, because we’ll be all en-masse. Some will wait on-board here. Whilst the rest of us pay a little social call on Crowley”.

“But what for?” Bengo exclaimed “Why can’t we just leave him be? I thought THAT was the plan”.

“We’re never going to be at peace here until we get rid of Crowley off our backs”, said Bardin “Otherwise he’s going to be constantly there, lurking just over the horizon, like some brooding menace. Best if we find out now what he wants and get shot of him”.

“We know what he wants, Bardin”, said Bengo, folding his arms stubbornly, as he used to do when he was a little boy, and objected to something he was being asked to do on stage “He wants you and Hoowie”.

“I’m not so sure it’s quite as simple as all that”, said Bardin “We also need him to explain that cryptic message in the dream the other night. No need to panic anyway, you’ll be there with me”.

“Coming with you?” said Bengo “I’m not letting you out of my sight!”

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