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By Sarah Hapgood

Hillyard stood at the entrance to the boat-yard, and watched as Kieran and Bardin approached along the path which led from the galleon.

“Are you two safe to be allowed at large in the town on your own?” he joked.

“Safer than you are probably!” Bardin shouted back.

“As if we’d dare misbehave”, said Kieran.

They ambled in the direction of the covered market. The clothing section was essentially a collection of trestle tables on which heaps of cheap and second-hand clothing were piled. It resembled a rummage sale, in the sense that you could expect to find just about anything, and you rummaged for what you wanted.

The women’s section was a noisy, boisterous affair, with women brazenly elbowing each other of the way to get at what they wanted. By contrast, the men’s section was an oasis of cathedral-like calm, the clothes piled in neat stacks, and men gloomily perusing them as though being offered a choice of poisons. All was presided over by a man with a simpering manner, who looked instantly as if he must suffer from sweaty palms.

Bardin ordered a stack of shirts.

“And size would Sir prefer?” asked Sweaty-Palms.

“Just bundle up a selection”, said Bardin “Bound to fit someone”.

“We come in all shapes and sizes”, said Kieran.

The man bustled off to attend to this.

“I think yer man fancies Sir”, said Kieran.

“I think he’s fancies anyone!” said Bardin.

They gravitated to the socks, pants and vests end of the table.

“Ugh, thermals”, said Bardin “Thank God we don’t have to worry about those for a few months”.

“I like these”, said Kieran, holding up a pair of red and white striped shorts “And they’re in my size too”.

“If you must”, said Bardin, witheringly “Not very sophisticated though”.

“I’m going to spend most of me time being spanked in them”, Kieran laughed “Sophistication’s not on the agenda!”

“Here”, Bardin had ecstatically spied a pile of men’s white cotton boxer shorts “I insist you have a pair of these as well. I want you to experience the thrill of a snug fit”.

“Oh alright”, said Kieran, still hanging onto the striped shorts though “But I’m not having tonnes of starch put into them, Bardin, that’s your department … or speciality I should say!”

After they had made their purchases they decamped to the bar, quickly grabbing the vacant window-seat once more. Their purchases had been wrapped up in two large, squashy brown parcels, which they now used as cushions and put underneath them to sit on.

“Though your arse can’t be as sore as mine”, said Kieran, as they sipped their beer “I must be well ahead of you in the spanking states”.

“I’ll catch up this evening”, said Bardin “The Club’s meeting after dinner. I shall cop it then no doubt. Adam doesn’t exactly hold back”.

He had a brief glimpse of Beatrix peering in at then, just before she’d darted round the side of the building.

“That bloody woman”, Bardin whispered “There’s no getting away from her!”

“I doubt she’ll bother us now she’s sussed out that Adam’s not with us”, said Kieran.

A plate of fish-paste or cheese sandwiches was delivered to their table as ordered. They were just tucking into them when they were blasted by Wesley suddenly appearing, blowing on a brass hunting-horn.

“Where did you get that?” said Kieran, taking it off him and examining it.

“Covered market”, said Wesley “Amazing what you can pick up in there”.

“It sure is”, said Kieran “It’s an old fox-hunting horn. Tally-ho!”

“Mind if I join you?” said Wesley.

They made room for him. Wesley promptly ordered another round of beers.

“It’s no problem”, he said, when they (feebly) protested at this generosity “I’m earning again. Anyway, it’s the least I can do, after you’ve brought me here”.

“You’re enjoying your new life then?” said Kieran.

“Fucking brilliant”, said Wesley “Jarvis is teaching me beer-making, and we’re starting up a weekly games night. Some of you lot should come along”.

“I expect Ransey and Umbert would enjoy it”, said Kieran.

“Only fly in the ointment is I keep dreading you guys moving on”, said Wesley “I know you’re bound to one day, but I’m not looking forward to it”.

“The current plan is”, said Bardin “That we won’t do that before this time next year. Short of catastrophes happening, like any of those jerks in the City finding out Kieran’s here”.

“Huh, it always boils down to me”, said Kieran, despondently “The endless source of all trouble”.

Bardin took the hunting-horn and blew on it, to stop Kieran’s spell of doom from developing any further.

“Hey, almost as good as the whistle”, he said “Could do with this on the galleon”.

“Take it”, said Wesley.

“No I didn’t mean that”, said Bardin.

“Go on, take it”, said Wesley “I only bought it on a whim, doubt I’ll ever use it. It’ll give me a kick to know you’re using it”.

“Sadist”, Kieran laughed.

“Sounds like you had a good time anyway”, said Joby, when they had got back to the galleon.

“It was a craic”, said Kieran, dumping all their own packages on the bunk “And Beatrix didn’t bother us when she found out Lover Boy wasn’t with us. Here, have a look at our new shirts”.

“Yeah lovely”, said Joby, doing an admirable job of containing his enthusiasm.

“How about these then?” said Kieran, holding up the red-and-white striped shorts “Bardin was snotty about them, but I think they’re really me”.

“I look forward to running my hand over them at some suitable point”, said Joby “Did you buy any extra tight ones?”

“I had no choice in the matter”, said Kieran, fishing them out “Bardin saw to that. I flatly refuse to have any starch put in them though, I’ve told him that right-up”.

“Oh c’mon, put ‘em on”, said Joby “I wont’ able to contain meself until later. Let’s christen ‘em now”.

“OK”, said Kieran, undressing “But I’m not wearing them all the time”.

“You don’t have to”, said Joby “It’ll just be one of the many varied ways you get a good hiding. One day even Ransey might appreciate how I keep you in order!”

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