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The Indigo-ites had all hoped fervently that they would be able to persuade their house-guests to leave the galleon and move onto the island. But even in their wildest dreams they hadn’t envisaged just how easy it would be.
Within a couple of days Beatrix and Co had packed up bag and baggage and moved across to the large wooden house.
“Without so much as a word of thanks”, said Adam.
“Who cares about thank you’s!” said Julian “Let’s just be glad the bastards have gone”.
“Hear hear”, said Ransey, who had come into the dining-room to pour out some tea for himself “I was beginning to feel haunted by Kitty”.
“Yeah, what was all that about?” said Julian “Why did she suddenly get the hots for you?”
“My immense sex-appeal”, said Ransey, dryly “You’ve either got it or you haven’t. It’s been the same most of my life really”.
“Yes alright!” Julian snapped “Anyway, what’s the plan now? Has Bardin got one?”
“Of course he has, Jules”, said Adam “We’ll spend another day here exploring the island, and being generally convivial, and then we shall go round and suss out the old lighthouse which the girls mentioned”.
“And then after that have a little cruise round the islands”, said Hillyard.
“I must say, it all sounds awfully civilised”, said Adam.
“I bet it don’t stay that way”, said Joby, with his usual unbridled optimism.
Bengo had climbed a fair way up the slope of the volcano, accompanied by Cloris and Jane, who couldn’t seem to get enough of his company. Bengo had noticed that this didn’t seem to be going down too well with some of the men of the island, apart from Lord Robert.
“Oh ignore them”, said Jane “They’re just jealous because you’re so good-looking”.
Bengo had a feeling he wouldn’t stay good-looking for long if the men of the island had their way.
“Perhaps they fancy you as well”, said Bardin, when Bengo got back to the ship “It wouldn’t surprise me, that’s what usually happens!”
“Well I don’t think that’s the case this time, Bardy”, said Bengo “I’ll be glad when we go round to the other side of the island. I don’t think I can take anymore of their menacing looks”.
“We’ll sail round to the other side of the island this afternoon”, said Bardin.
The women had been right. The old lighthouse was almost intact. It was situated on a ledge in the rocky north-western side of the island. The cliffside here was peppered with ridges and dark gaps.
“Look, a cave, Joby”, said Lonts, on the main deck of the galleon, pointing upwards.
“Well for crissake don’t tell Kieran”, said Joby “Or he’ll probably want to go and live there. Become St Kieran the Hermit of Fire Island or summat”.
“I don’t know why we want to stay here anyway”, said Lonts.
“We’re dunno what we’re doing yet do we”, said Joby “We haven’t looked it over yet”.
“It’s just that I think we should try one of the islands instead”, said Lonts “It might be safer”.
“Safer?” said Joby “In what way?”
“Well if we stay here Bengo might get beaten up”, said Lonts.
“You shouldn’t be taking any notice of all that cobblers”, said Joby, in exasperation “It’s just some blokes being daft. Obviously too thick to see that Bengo’s surgically attached to Bardin!”
The following day Kieran and Bardin lay under the makeshift tarpaulin canopy on the main deck, sampling some of the islanders’ beer.
“Hillyard won’t like this”, said Bardin “It’s as good as his”.
“Are you feeling OK, Bardin?” asked Kieran, unexpectedly.
“Yeah I’m fine, why?” said Bardin.
“It’s just that you’re not haring off to explore the lighthouse”, said Kieran “Normally, when we arrive somewhere new, you’re off out to get at it like a rat up a drainpipe”.
“I couldn’t care less about the lighthouse”, said Bardin, looking over at it with a critical eye “I think Lonts has had the best idea, let’s go and sail round the islands, and no this has nothing to do with saving Bengo’s pretty looks”.
“I must admit the islands are more enticing”, said Kieran “And the lighthouse isn’t exactly going to run away anywhere now is it”.
“It’ll be nice to make the most of having our boat back to ourselves again”, said Bardin.
After lunch Kieran moved his and Joby’s belongings back into their cabin. When he got there with their rucksacks, he found Joby had flung open the port-hole window, and was pulling the mattress off the bunk.
“Wow, why didn’t you call in the council fumigators whilst you’re at it!” said Kieran.
“If I bleeding well could I would!” Joby growled.
“This is crazy stuff”, said Kieran “They took everything of theirs with them”.
“I can still feel ‘em around here”, said Joby “The atmosphere is tainted with their presence”.
“Now that’s just plain daft”, said Kieran “They were a pain in the backside but they weren’t a plague of demons now”.
“Huh!” said Joby, stripping the bunk of all its bedding.
“Joby, would you like to come along and do some work?” said Adam.
“Yes, take him away”, said Kieran “It might cure him of over-reacting”.
“Here, I want you to finish clearing out this cabin whilst I’m gone”, said Joby.
Kieran nodded. When Joby had gone though he lay down on the sofa and closed his eyes.
It was another day or so before they set off on the island tour though. The inhabitants of Fire Island were a gossipy, sociable lot, sometimes to the extent that it was hard to see how any work ever got done. As such, there was much traipsing backwards and forwards around the bottom of the volcano by both sides.
“We’re going to miss you all”, said Cloris “But particularly Bengo and Bardin, they’re such nice boys”.
“Well Bardin can be a little brusque sometimes”, said Adam.
“Oh no he’s lovely”, said Cloris “So shy and bashful”.
“Shy and bashful?!” Joby exclaimed, when Adam relayed this surprising news to him “Bardin?!”
“That’s what she said”, said Adam.
Anyway, with many protestations that they weren’t going very far, and that they would undoubtedly come back if they couldn’t find an island to suit them, the galleon did eventually sail again.
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