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By Sarah Hapgood

“I could kill him! I really could! With my bare hands!” said Hoowie “Fucking Crowley! He don’t deserve to be alive!”

“Calm down”, said Bengo, hauling Hoowie by his dressing-gown into the galley “Sit down and calm down. The others won’t appreciate you getting all hysterical on top of everything else”.

“He was there, waiting for me, Benje”, said Hoowie “Bardin. That marvellous body of his all ready for the taking. I was practically bursting out of me cock. Oh it’s alright for you to laugh, you can have him any time, but God knows when I’ gonna get a chance like that again!”

“As soon as we’ve got rid of our unwelcome visitor I expect”, said Bengo.

“We’ll never be rid of him!” said Hoowie “What can we do? Drown him? He’s like us. Immortal. What the hell was Kieran thinking of when he granted it to him?”

“I’m not entirely certain he did”, said Bengo “In fact, I don’t know how Crowley and all that other like, like the Sade’s and Joby’s brother, came to be here. I can’t remember how it all happened”.

“Well anyway it doesn’t matter”, said Hoowie “The fact is, we can’t be rid of him”.

“Look, don’t’ be so sure about that”, said Bengo “We don’t know what the others are gonna cook up yet”.

“Of course it is entirely traditional for a visitor in such an inhospitable part of the world such as this, to be accommodated for as long as he requires”, said Crowley, who had been led into the dining-room practically under armed-guard.

He stopped and looked around him. What he saw impressed him. The fire in the grate, the gramophone, the piano, the games, plus the alcohol, all made the place feel very homely indeed.

“You’re not staying for any length of time”, said Bardin “We’ll accommodate you for tonight, and then in the morning we’ll take you back to your place. I do not understand why you went to all the trouble of driving us away from the clearing, just to then follow us here”.

“I didn’t drive you away, you know”, said Crowley, passionately “Why would I do that, when I wish to achieve the precise opposite, and lure you in?”

“We heard horrific noises”, said Bardin “Like demons. In the forests. Very forbidding”.

“Not my doing”, said Crowley “This is a very haunted area, as I’m sure you are aware. If you’ve experienced other-worldly phenomena it was not instigated by me”.

“We have only your word for that”, said Bardin.

Crowley flung out his hand in a gesture to signify “then what can I say?”

“Have you left your women-friends alone back at the house, Aleister?” said Adam.

“The Mistresses are used to me going on solitary rambles at odd times”, said Crowley.

“But you’ve left them alone in that house?” said Kieran.

Crowley turned a piercing stare in his direction.

“Yes”, he said, in a long drawn-out way “I am aware that you have been spying on me. Oh yes, I sensed you there. Very clever. Astral projection can of course be highly dangerous. I could have taken up combat with you on the astral plane”.

“I doubt it”, said Kieran “If you felt you could have combated me Aleister, you would have done so”.

“Let us sit down”, Julian ordered, like a particularly forbidding vicar ordering his congregation to pray.

From out in the corridor Bengo could be heard trying to keep Hoowie under restraint. Julian went out to them.

“Hoowie, go to the cabin”, he said.

“But I’m so furious, Julian”, Hoowie protested.

“You are not going in there looking like that”, said Julian, indicating Hoowie’s dishevelled dressing-gown “You’re reeking of sex all over the place. Bengo, take him along and stay with him. I’ll keep a close eye on Bardin”.

“OK”, said Bengo, grabbing hold of Hoowie again “Come along, you great silly buffoon!”

“See if you can coax the fire back into life whilst you’re in there!” Julian called after them.

“There seems to be no reason why you are here, Aleister”, said Adam, who was leaning on the mantelpiece in the dining-room.

“He thinks he’s missing summat, that’s what it is”, said Joby.

“I can’t believe you hiked across land in these conditions just to come here”, said Bardin.

“I am an intrepid explorer, dear boy”, said Crowley “I have climbed mountains in far worse conditions than this”.

“Oh yes”, said Julian, strolling back to his chair “Didn’t you once hide in your tent, leaving some of your bearers to perish? That’s not good, Crowley. That’s bad sport. That’s the mark of a coward and a bounder”.

“How dare you”, said Crowley, in a tight, small voice.

“I can say what I like in my own home”, said Julian “And of course, if you don’t like it, you are perfectly free to leave”.

“Snookered”, Hillyard muttered, with satisfaction.

“I don’t see any point in sitting up late just to have this conversation”, said Ransey “Let’s turn in. Where’s Crowley sleeping?”

“It’s not in here is it?” said Umbert.

“He can go in the wireless room”, said Bardin.

“Yeah why not”, said Joby “After all, he wrecked it!”

“I did not”, said Crowley.

Joby though was bored with Crowley’s protestations of denial, (bored with him generally in fact), and said he was going to bed.

“I’ll dig out a spare camp-bed”, said Ransey “For our guest”.

Kieran was pacing his cabin, biting on his fingers.

“Shouldn’t somebody stay and keep an eye on him?” he said, when Joby came into the room.

“Well don’t look at me!” said Joby “There’s nothing he can do anyway. Adam’s locked the galley, Ransey’s secured the hold, and we’re all bolting ourselves into our cabins. I spose he can get into the heads, but good luck to him if he wants to prat about in there!”

“I guess so”, said Kieran.

“Cheer up”, said Joby “We’re taking him home tomorrow, and then we’ll find somewhere else to stay, preferably on the other side of the lake, where he can’t walk to us!”

“We’re running out of sides of the lake”, said Kieran.

“We’re not running out of lengths of lake”, Joby pointed out “We’ll just keep sailing, that’s all”.

Bardin was up early at some ridiculous hour the next morning, blowing his whistle.

“What the hell, Bardin?” exclaimed Ransey and Hillyard, both emerging from the big saloon.

“If we set off now”, said Bardin “We should be at Crowley’s place at a reasonable time to off-load him. I want him out of here as soon as possible”.

Nobody could argue with those sentiments.

Crowley had spent a cold, cramped, uncomfortable night in the wireless room. At breakfast he voiced his displeasure, plus his grievance that he had been given such a below-par accommodation. The others listened to him in laborious silence, counting down the hours until they could be shot of him. When Kieran walked into the room, he felt put out that Crowley was sitting on his customary side of the table.

“Come and sit over here”, Julian ordered from the other side “Squeeze in next to Hoowie”.

“Why are you going to all this trouble of travelling today?” Crowley complained.

“Oh it’s no trouble Aleister, believe me”, said Adam, putting a large dish of scrambled eggs on the table.

“It’s a pleasure”, Joby growled.

Bardin clapped his hands imperiously from the end of the table.

“Let’s eat“, he said “We have a long day ahead of us”.

“That man!” said Adam, slamming an empty serving-dish on the galley table “I can’t believe the shamelessness of him!”

“Who?” said Joby “Bardin?”

“No you clot”, said Adam “Aleister. Does nothing penetrate that thick hide of his?”

“Probably not”, said Joby “He’s convinced everybody will give him what he wants. Nothing we say is gonna convince him otherwise”.

“Classic obnoxious spoilt little boy”, said Adam “And now Patsy has some idea that when we get there we shall escort Aleister to his house”.

“Eh?” said Joby “Why? I thought we was just gonna dump him ashore! Kieran has some bloody stupid ideas sometimes. I know what this is all about. He wants to go and have a gawp at that picture of Angel in Crowley’s library”.

“But he’s already seen it”, said Adam “When he and Bardin astrally projected”.

“He wants to have a poke round for real”, said Joby “Bet you any money you like”.

“Oh how very tiresome”, Adam sighed.

“We’ve got a few hours before we get there”, said joby “Go and give his backside a damn good paddling again!”

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