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IWORMALLY there are only two types of marine machines concerned with the discovery and recovery of oil from under the
ocean floor. The first, mainly enaed in the discovery of oil, is a self!propelled vessel, sometimes of very considera"le si#e. Apart
from its towerin drillin derric$, it is indistinuisha"le from any oceanoin caro vessel% its purpose is to drill "oreholes in areas
where seismoloical and eoloical studies suest oil may e&ist. The technical operation of this activity is hihly comple&, yet
these vessels have achieved a remar$a"le level of success. 'owever, they suffer from two ma(or draw"ac$s. Althouh they are
e)uipped with the most advanced and sophisticated naviational e)uipment, includin "owthrust propellers, for them to maintain
position in runnin seas, stron tides and winds when "orin can "e e&tremely difficult, and in really heavy weather operations have
to "e suspended.
*or the actual drillin of oil and its recovery+ principally its recovery+the so!called ,(ac$!up system- is in almost universal use.
This system has to "e towed into position, and consists "asically of a platform which carries the drillin ri, cranes, helipads and all
essential services, includin livin accommodations, and is attached to the sea"ed "y firmly anchored les. In normal conditions it is
e&tremely effective, "ut li$e the discovery ships it has draw"ac$s. It is not mo"ile. It has to suspend operations in even moderately
heavy weather. And it can "e used only in comparatively shallow water. the deepest is in the /orth 0ea, where most of those ris are
to "e found. This /orth 0ea ri stands in a"out 123 feet of water, and the cost of increasin the lenth of those les would "e so
prohi"itive as to ma$e oil recovery )uite uneconomical, even thouh Americans have plans to construct a ri with 433!foot les off
the 5alifornia 5oast. There is also the un$nown safety factor. Two such ris have already "een lost in the /orth 0ea. The cause of
those disasters has not "een clearly evaluated, althouh it is suspected, o"viously
0ea witch
not without "asis, that there may have "een desin, structural or metallic faults in one or more of the les.
And then there is the third type of oil ri+ the TL6+technically, the tension le drillin7 production platform. At the time of this
story there was only one of its type in the world. The platform, the wor$in area, was a"out the si#e of a foot"all field+if, that is,
one can imaine a trianular foot"all field, for the platform was, in fact, an e)uilateral trianle. The dec$ was not made of steel "ut
of a uni)uely desined ferroconcrete, specially developed "y a 8utch ship"uildin company. The supports for this massive platform
had "een desined and "uilt in 9nland and consisted of three enormous steel les, each at one corner of the structure, the three
"ein (oined toether "y a variety of hori#ontal and diaonal hollow cylinders, the total com"ination offerin such tremendous
"uoyancy that the wor$in platform they supported was out of reach of even the hihest waves.
*rom each of the "ases of the three les, three massive steel ca"les e&tended to the "ase of the ocean floor, where each triple set
was attached to lare sea!floor anchors. 6owerful motors could raise or lower these ca"les, so that the anchors could "e lowered to a
depth two or three times that of most modern fi&ed oil derric$s, which meant that this ri could operate at depths far out on the
continental shelf.
The TL6 had other very considera"le advantaes.
Its reat "uoyancy put the anchor ca"les under constant tension, and this tension practically eliminated the heavin, pitchin and
rollin of the platform. Thus the ri could continue operatin in very severe storms, storms that would automatically stop production
on any other type of derric$.
It was also virtually immune to the effects ot an undersea earth)ua$e.
It was also mo"ile. It had only to up anchors and move to potentially more productive areas.
And compared to standard oil ris, its cost of esta"lishin position in any iven spot was so nelii"le as to "e worth no more than
a passin mention.
The name of the TL6 was 0eawitch.
Chapter 1
I/ certain places and amon certain people, the 0eawitch was a very "ad name indeed. :ut, overwhelminly, their venom was
reserved for a certain Lord Worth, a multi+some said "ulti+ millionaire, chairman and sole owner of /orth 'udson Oil 5ompany
and, incidentally, owner of the 0eawitch. When his name was mentioned "y any of the ten men present at that shoreside house on
La$e Tahoe, it was in tones of less than hushed reverence.
Their meetin was announced in neither the national nor local press. This was due to two factors. The deleates arrived and
departed either sinly or in couples, and amon the heteroeneous summer population of La$e Tahoe such comins and oins went
unremar$ed or were inored. More importantly, the deleates to the meetin were understanda"ly reluctant that their assem"ly
"ecome common $nowlede. The day was *riday the thirteenth, a date that "oded no ood for someone.
There were nine deleates present, plus their host. *our of them mattered, "ut only two seriously+5orral, who represented the oil
and mineral leases in the *lorida area, and :enson, who represented the ris off 0outhern 5alifornia.
Of the other si&, only two mattered. One was 6atinos of ;ene#uela% the other, $nown as :orosoff, of Russia, whose interest in
American oil supplies could only "e rearded as minimal. It was widely assumed amon the others that his only interest in attendin
the meetin was to stir up as much trou"le as possi"le, an assumption that was pro"a"ly correct.
All ten were, in various derees, suppliers of oil to the <nited 0tates and had one common interest. to see that the price of those
supplies did not drop. The last thin they ah= wanted to see was an oil!value depreciation.
:enson, whose holiday home this was and who was nominally hostin the meetin, opened the discussion.
,?entlemen, does anyone have any o"(ections if I "rin a third party+that is, a man who represents neither ourselves nor Lord
Worth+into this meetin@-
6ractically everyone had, and there were some moments of "edlamic confusion. they had not only o"(ections "ut very stron ones
at that.
:orosoff, the Russian, said. ,/o, It is too danerous.- 'e lanced around the roup with calculated suspiciousness. ,There are
already too many of us privy to these discussions.-
:enson, who had not "ecome head of one of 9uropeAs "iest oil companies, a :ritish!"ased one, (ust "ecause someone had
handed him the (o" as a "irthday present, could "e disconcertinly "lunt.
,You, :orosoff, are the one with the slenderest claims to "e present at this meetin. You miht well "ear that in mind. /ame your
suspect.- :orosoff remained silent. ,Remem"er, entlemen, the o"(ective of this meetin+to maintain, at least, the present oil!price
levels. The O695 is now actively considerin hi$in the oil prices. .That doesnAt hurt us much here hi the <.0.+ weAll (ust hi$e our
own prices and pass them on to the pu"lic.-
6atinos said. ,YouAre every "it as unscrupulous and ruthless as you claim us to "e.-
,Realism is not the same as rathlessness. /o"odyAs oin to hi$e anythin while /orth 'udson is around. They are already
undercuttin us, the ma(ors. A sliht pinch, "ut we feel it. If we raise our prices more and his remain steady, the sliht pinch is oin
to increase. And if he ets some more TL6s into operation, then the pinch will "ein to hurt. It will also hurt the O695, for the
demand for your products will undou"tedly fall off.
,We all su"scri"e to the entlemenAs areement amon ma(or oil companies that they will not prospect for oil in international
waters+that is to say, outside their own leally and internationally reconi#ed territorial limits. Without o"servance of this
areement, the possi"ilities of leal, diplomatic, political and international strife, ranin from scenes of political violence to
outriht armed confrontation, are only too real. Let us suppose that /ation A+as some countries have already done+claims all
rihts for all waters a hundred miles offshore from its coasts. Let us further suppose that /ation : comes alon and starts drillin
thirty miles outside those limits. Then let us suppose that /ation A ma$es a unilateral decision to e&tend its offshore limits to a
hundred and fifty miles+and donAt foret that 6eru has claimed two hundred miles as its limits. the su"se)uent possi"ilities are too
awesome to contemplate.
,Alas, not all are entlemen. The chairman of the /orth 'udson Oil 5ompany, Lord Worth, and his entire pestiferous "oard of
directors would have "een the first to vehemently deny any suestion that they were entlemen, a fact held in almost universal
acceptance "y their competitors in oil. They would also have denied e)ually vehemently that they were criminals, a fact that may or
may not have "een true, "ut it most certainly is not true now.
,'e has, in short, committed two of what should "e indicta"le offenses. A0hould,A I say. The first is unprova"le% the second,
althouh an of!fense in moral terms, is not, as yet, strictly illeal.
,The facts of the first+and what I consider much the minor offense+concerns the "uildin of Lord WorthAs TL6 in 'ouston. It is
no secret in the industry that the plans were stolen+those for the platform from the Mo"il Oil 5ompany, those for the les and
anchorin systems from the 5hevron Oilfield Research 5ompany. :ut, as I say, unprova"le. It is commonplace for new inventions
and developments to occur at two or more places simultaneously, and he can always claim that his desin team, wor$in in secret,
"eat the others to the punch.-
:enson was perfectly correct. In the desin of the 0eawitch Lord Worth had adopted shortcuts which the narrow!minded could
have rearded as unscrupulous, if not illeal. Li$e all oil companies, /orth 'udson had its own desin team. They were all cronies
of Lord Worth, employed solely for ta&!deduction purposes% their com"ined talents would have "een incapa"le of desinin a
This did not worry Lord Worth. 'e had no need for a desin team. 'e was a vastly wealthy man, had powerful friends+none of
them, needless to say, amon the oil companies+and was a master of industrial espionae. With these resources at his disposal, he
found little trou"le in o"tainin those two secret advance plans, which he passed on to a firm of hihly competent marine desiners,
whose e&or"itant fees were matched only "y then> e&treme discretion. The desiners found little difficulty in marryin the two sets
of plans, addin (ust sufficient modifications and improvements to discourae those with a penchant for patent!rihts litiation.
:enson went on. ,:ut what really worries me, and what should worry all you entlemen here, is Lord WorthAs violation of the
tacit areement never to indule in drillin in international waters.- 'e paused, deli"erately for effect, and loo$ed slowly at each of
the other nine in turn. ,I say in all seriousness, entlemen, that Lord WorthAs foolhardiness and reed may well prove to "e the spar$
that triers a third world war. Apart from protectin our own interests, I maintain that for the ood of man$ind+and I spea$ from
no motive of spurious self!(ustification+if the overnments of the world do not intervene, then it is imperative that we should. As
the overnments show no sin of intervention, then I suest that the "urden lies upon us. This madman must "e stopped. I thin$ you
entlemen would aree that only we reali#e the full implications of all of this and that only we have the technical e&pertise to stop
There were murmurs of approval from around the room. A sincere and disinterested concern for the ood of man$ind was a much
more morally (ustifia"le reason for action than the protection of oneAs own selfish interest. 6atinos, the man from ;ene#uela, loo$ed
at :enson with a smile of mild cynicism on his face. The smile sinified nothin. 6atinos, a sincere and devout 5atholic, wore the
same e&pression when he passed throuh the doors of his church.
,You seem very sure of this, Mr. :enson@-
BTve iven )uite some thouht to it.-
:orosoff said. ,And (ust how do you propose to stop this madman, Mr. :enson@-
AAl donAt $now.-
,You donAt $now@- One of the others at the ta"le lifted his eye"rows a millimeter+for him a sin of complete disapproval. ,Then
why did you summon us all this distance@-
,I didnAt summon you. I as$ed you. I as$ed you to approve whatever course of action we miht ta$e.-
AThis course of action "ein+-
,Aain, I donAt $now.-
The eye"rows returned to normal. A twitch of the manAs lip showed that he was contemplatin smilin.
,This+ah+third party@-
,'e has a name@-
,5ron$ite. Dohn 5ron$ite.-
A hush descended upon the company. Them open o"(ections had turned into pensive hesitation which in turn ave way to a
noddin acceptance. :enson apart, no one there had ever met 5ron$ite, "ut his name was a household word to all of them. In the oil
"usiness that name had lon "een a leend, althouh at times a far from savory one. They all $new that any of them miht re)uire
his incompara"le services at any time, while at the same time hopin that that day would never come.
When it came to the cappin of "la#in ushers, 5ron$ite was without peer. Wherever in the world a usher "lew fire no one even
considered puttin it out themselves, they (ust sent for 5ron$ite. To wincin o"servers his modus operandi seemed nothin short of
8raconian, "ut 5ron$ite would "lasphemously "roo$ no interference. 8espite the e&tortionate fees he chared, it was more common
than not for a four!enined (et to "e put at his disposal to et him to the scene of the disaster as )uic$ly as possi"le. 5ron$ite always
delivered. 'e also $new all there was to $now a"out the oil "usiness. And he was, hardly surprisinly, e&tremely touh and utterly
'enderson, who represented oil interests in 'onduras, said. ,Why should a man with his e&traordinary )ualifications, the worldAs
num"er, one, as we all $now, choose to enae himself in+ah+an enterprise of this nature@ *rom his reputation I would hardly
have thouht that he was one to "e concerned a"out the woes of sufferin man$ind.-
,'e isnAt. Money. 5ron$ite comes very hih. A fresh challene+the manAs a "orn adventurer. :ut, "asically, itAs "ecause he hates
Lord WorthAs uts.-
'enderson said. ,/ot an uncommon sentiment, it seems. Why@-
,Lord Worth sent his own private :oein for him to come cap a "la#in usher in the Middle 9ast. :y the time 5ron$ite arrived,
Lord WorthAs own men had capped it. This, alone, 5ron$ite rearded as a mortal insult. 'e then made the mista$e of demandin the
full fee for his services. Lord Worth has a reputation for notorious 0cottish meanness, which, while an insult to the 0cots, is more
than (ustified in his case. 'e refused, and said that he would pay him for his time, no more. 5ron$ite then compounded his error "y
ta$in him to court. With the $ind of lawyers Lord Worth can afford, 5ron$ite never had a chance. /ot only did he lose "ut he had to
pay the costs.-
,Which wouldnAt "e low@- 'enderson said.
,Medium!hih to massive. I donAt $now. All D $now is that 5ron$ite has done )uite a "it of "roodin a"out it ever since.-
,0uch a man would not have to "e sworn to secrecy@-
,A man can swear a hundred different oaths and "rea$ them all. :esides, "ecause of the e&or"itant fees 5ron$ite chares, his
feelins toward Lord Worth and the fact that he miht (ust have to step outside the law, his silence is ensured.-
It was the turn of another of those rouped round the ta"le to raise his eye"rows. ,Outside the law@ We cannot ris$ "ein involved
, AMiht,A I said. *or us, the element of ris$ does not e&ist.-
,May we see this man@- :enson nodded, rose, went to a door and admitted 5ron$ite.
5ron$ite was a Te&an. In heiht, "uild and crainess of features he "ore a remar$a"le resem"lance to Dohn Wayne. <nli$e
Wayne, he never smiled. 'is face was of a peculiarly yellow comple&ion, typical of those who have had an overdose of antimalarial
ta"lets, which was (ust what had happened to 5ron$ite. Mepacrine does not ma$e for a peaches!and!cream comple&ion+ not that
5ron$iteAs had ever remotely resem"led that. 'e was newly returned from Indonesia, where he had inevita"ly maintained his >33
percent record.
,Mr. 5ron$ite,- :enson said. ,Mr. 5ron$ite, this is+-
5ron$ite was "rus)ue. In a ravelly voice he said. ,I donAt want to $now their names.-
In spite of the a"ruptness of his tone, several of the oilmen round the ta"le almost "eamed.
'ere was a man of discretion, a man after their own hearts.
5ron$ite went on. ,All I understand from Mr. :enson is that I am re)uired to attend to a matter involvin Lord Worth and the
0eawitch, Mr. :enson has iven me a pretty full "riefin. I $now the "ac$round. I would li$e, first of all, to hear any suestions
you entlemen may have to offer.- 5ron$ite sat down, lit what proved to "e a very foul!smellin ciar, and waited e&pectantly.
'e $ept silent durin the followin half!hour discussion. *or ten of the worldAs top "usinessmen, they proved to "e an
e&traordinarily inept, not to say inane, lot. They tal$ed in an ever!narrowin series of concentric circles.
'enderson said. ,*irst of all, there must "e no violence used. Is that areed@-
9very"ody nodded areement. 9ach of them was a pillar of "usiness respecta"ility who could not afford to have his reputation
"esmirched in any way. /o one appeared to notice that, e&cept for liftin a hand to his ciar and puffin out increasinly vile clouds
of smo$e, 5ron$ite did not move throuhout the discussion. 'e also remained totally silent.
After areein that there should "e no violence, the meetin of ten areed on nothin.
*inally 6atinos spo$e up. ,Why donAt you+ one of you four Americans, I mean+approach your 5onress to pass an emerency
law "annin offshore drillin in e&traterritorial waters@-
:enson loo$ed at him with somethin a$in to pity. ,I am afraid, sir, that you do not )uite understand the relations "etween the
American ma(ors and 5onress. On the few occasions we have met with them+somethin to do with too much profits and too little
ta&+IAm afraid we have treated them in so+ah+cavalier a fashion that nothin would ive them reater pleasure than to refuse any
re)uest we miht ma$e.-
One of the others, $nown simply as ,Mr. A,- said. ,'ow a"out an approach to that international leal om"udsman, The 'aue@
After all, this is an international matter.-
'enderson shoo$ his head. ,*oret it. The dilatoriness of that auust "ody is so leendary that all present would "e lon
retired+or worse+"efore a decision is made. The decision would (ust as li$ely "e neative anyway.- ,<nited /ations@- Mr. A said.
,That tal$!shopF- :enson o"viously had a low and not uncommon view of the </. ,They havenAt even ot the power to order /ew
Yor$ to install a new par$in meter outside their front door.-
The ne&t revolutionary idea came from one of the Americans.
,Why shouldnAt we all aree, for an unspecified time+letAs see how it oes+to lower our price "elow that of /orth 'udson@ In
that case no one would want to "uy their oil.-
This proposal was met with stunned dis"elief.
5orral spo$e in a $ind voice. ,/ot only would that lead to vast losses to the ma(or oil companies, "ut would almost certainly and
immediately lead Lord Worth to lower his prices fractionally "elow their new ones. The man has sufficient wor$in capital to $eep
him oin for a hundred years at a loss+!in the unli$ely event, that is, of his runnin at a loss at all.-
A lenthy silence followed. 5ron$ite was not )uite as immo"ile as he had "een% The ranitic e&pression on his face remained
unchaned, "ut the finers of his nonsmo$in hand had "eun to drum ently on the armrest of his chair. *or 5ron$ite, this was
e)uivalent to throwin a fit of hysterics.
It was durin this period that all thouhts of maintainin hih, entlemanly and ethical standards aainst drillin hi international
waters were forotten "y the ten.
,Why not,- Mr. A said, ,"uy him out@- In fairness it has to "e said that Mr. A did not appreciate (ust how wealthy Lord Worth was
and that, immensely wealthy thouh he, Mr. A, was, Lord Worth could have "ouht him out loc$, stoc$ and "arrel. ,The 0eawitch
rihts, I mean. A hundred million dollars. LetAs "e enerous, two hundred million dollars. Why not@-
5orral loo$ed depressed. AThe answer to ,Why not@A is easy. :y the latest rec$onin, Lord Worth is one of the worldAs five richest
men, and even two hundred million dollars would "e pennies as far as he was concerned.-
/ow Mr. A loo$ed depressed.
:enson said. ,0ure heAd sell.-
Mr. A visi"ly "rihtened.
,*or two reasons only. In the first place heAd ma$e a )uic$ and splendid profit. In the second place, for less than half the sellin
price, he could "uild another 0eawitch, anchor it a couple of miles away from the present 0eawitch+there are no leasehold rihts in
e&traterritorial waters+ and start sendin oil ashore at his same old price.-
A temporarily deflated Mr. A slumped "ac$ in his armchair.
,A partnership, then,G Mr. : said. 'is tone was that of a man in a state of )uiet despair.
,Out of the )uestion.- 'enderson was very positive. ,Li$e all very rich men, Lord Worth is a "orn loner. 'e wouldnAt have a
com"ined partnership with the Hin of 0audi Ara"ia and the 0hah of Iran, even if it were offered him free.-
In the loom of "affled and e&hausted silence thorouhly "ored and hitherto near!wordless, Dohn 5ron$ite rose.
'e said without pream"le. ,My personal fee will "e one million dollars. I will re)uire ten million dollars for operatin e&penses.
9very cent of this will "e accounted for and any unspent "alance returned. I demand a completely free hand and no interference from
any of you. If I do encounter interference IAll retain the "alance of the e&penses and a"andon the mission. I refuse to disclose what
my plans are+or will "e when I have made them. *inally, I would prefer to have no further contact with any of you, now or at any
The assurance and confidence of the man were astonishin. Areement amon the mihtily relieved ten was immediate and total.
The ten million dollars+a triflin sum to those accustomed to spendin as much in "ri"es every month or so+would "e delivered
within twenty!four+ at the most, forty!eiht+hours to a 5u"an num"ered account in Miami, the only place in the <nited 0tates
where 0wiss!type num"ered accounts were permitted. *or ta&!evasion purposes, the money of course would not come from any of
their respective countries. instead, ironically enouh, from their "ulin offshore funds.
Chapter 2
Lord Worth was tall, lean and erect. 'is comple&ion was the mahoany hue of the play"oy millionaire who spends his life in the
sun. Lord Worth seldom wor$ed less than si&teen hours a day. 'is a"undant hair and mustache were snow!white. Accordin to his
mood and e&pression and to the eye of the "eholder, he could have "een a "i"lical patriarch, a "etter!class Roman senator, or a
entlemanly seventeenth!century pirate+e&cept for the fact, of course, that none of those ever, far less ha"itually, wore lihtweiht
Alpaca suits of the same color as Lord WorthAs hair.
'e loo$ed and was every inch an aristocrat. <nli$e the many Americans who "ore the 5hristian names of 8u$e or 9arl, Lord
Worth really was a lord, the fifteenth in succession of a hihly distinuished family of 0cottish peers of the realm. The fact that their
distinction had lain mainly in the fields of assassination, endless clan warfare, the stealin of women and cattle, and the sellin of
their fellow peers down the river was "eside the point. the earlier 0cottish peers didnAt o in too much for the more cultural activities.
The "lue "lood that had run in their veins ran in Lord WorthAs. As ruthless, predatory, ac)uisitive and couraeous as any of his
ancestors, Lord Worth simply went a"out his "usiness with a deree of refinement and sophistication that would have lain several
liht!years "eyond their understandin.
'e had reversed the trend of 5anadians comin to :ritain, ma$in their fortunes and eventually "ein elevated to the peerae. he
had already "een a peer, and an e&tremely wealthy one, "efore emiratin to 5anada. 'is emiration, which had "een discreet and
precipitous, had not "een entirely voluntary. 'e had made a fortune hi real estate in London "efore the Internal Revenue had "ecome
em"arrassinly interested in his activities. *ortunately for him, whatever chares miht have "een laid at his door were not
'e had spent several years in 5anada, investin his millions in the /orth 'udson Oil 5ompany and provin himself to "e even
more a"le!in the oil "usiness than he had "een in real estate. 'is tan$ers and refineries spanned the lo"e "efore he had decided that
the climate was too cold for him and moved south to *lorida. 'is splendid mansion was the envy of the many millionaires+of a
lesser financial "reed, admittedly+who almost literally (ostled for el"ow!room in the *ort Lauderdale area.
The dinin room in that mansion was somethin to "ehold. Mon$s, "y the very nature of their callin, are supposed to "e devoid
of all earthly lusts, "ut no mon$, past or present, could ever have a#ed on the leamin manificence of that splendid oa$en
refectory ta"le without turnin pale chartreuse with envy. The chairs, inevita"ly, were Louis II;. The splendidly em"roidered sil$en
carpet, with a pile deep enouh for a fair!si#ed mouse to ta$e cover in, would have "een (uded "y an e&pert to come from
8amascus and to have cost a fortune. the e&pert would have "een riht on "oth counts. The heavy drapes and em"roidered sil$en
walls were of the same pale ray, the latter "ein enhanced "y a series of oriinal impressionist paintins, no less than three "y
Matisse and the same num"er "y Renoir. Lord Worth was no dilettante and was clearly tryin to ma$e amends for his ancestors=
shortcomins in cultural fields.
It was in those suita"ly princely surroundins that Lord Worth was at the moment ta$in !his ease, revelin in his second "randy
and the two "eins whom+after money+he loved most in the world. his two dauhters, Marina and Me!linda, who had "een so
named "y their now divorced 0panish mother. :oth were youn, "oth were "eautiful, and could have "een mista$en for twins, which
they werenAt. they were easily distinuisha"le "y the fact that while MarinaAs hair was "lac$ as a ravenAs, MelindaAs was pure titian.
There were two other uests at the ta"le. Many a local millionaire would have iven a fair slice of his ill!otten ains for the
privilee and honor of sittin at Lord WorthAs ta"le. *ew were invited, and then "ut seldom. Those two youn men, comparatively as
poor as church mice, had the uni)ue privilee, without invitation, of comin and oin as they pleased, which was pretty often.
They were Mitchell and Roomer, two pleasant men in their early thirties for whom Lord Worth had a stron, if concealed,
admiration and whom he held in somethin close to awe+inasmuch as they were the only two completely honest men he had ever
met. /ot that Lord Worth had ever stepped on the wron side of the law, althouh he fre)uently had a clear view of what happened
on the other side. it was simply that he was not hi the ha"it of dealin with honest men. They had "oth "een two hihly efficient
police sereants, only they had "een too efficient, much iven to arrestin the wron people, such as croo$ed politicians and e)ually
croo$ed wealthy "usinessmen who had previously la"ored under the misapprehension that they were a"ove the law. They were fired,
not to put too fine a point on it, for their total incorrupti"ility.
Of the two, Michael Mitchell was the taller, the "roader and the less ood!loo$in. With slihtly cray face, ruffled dar$ hair and
"lue chin, he could never have made it as a matinee idol. Dohn Roomer, with his "rown hair and trimmed "rown mustache, was
altoether "etter!loo$in. :oth were shrewd, intellient and hihly e&perienced. Roomer was the intuitive one, Mitchell the one lon
on action. Apart from "ein charmin, "oth men were astute and hihly resourceful. And they were possessed of one other not
inconsidera"le )uality. "oth were deadly mar$smen.
Two years previously they had set up their own private investiative practice, and in that "rief space of time had esta"lished such a
reputation that people in real trou"le now made a practice of oin to them instead of to the police, a fact that hardly endeared them
to the local law. They lived near Lord WorthAs estate, where they were fre)uent and welcome visitors. That they did not come for the
e&clusive pleasure of his company Lord Worth was well aware. /or, he $new, were they even in the slihtest way interested in his
money, a fact that Lord Worth
found astonishin, as he had never previously encountered anyone who wasnAt thus interested. What they were interested in, and
deeply so, were Marina and Melinda.
The door opened and Lord WorthAs "utler, Den$ins+9nlish, of course, as were the two footmen+made his usual soundless
entrance, approached the head of the ta"le and murmured discreetly hi Lord WorthAs ear. Lord Worth nodded and rose.
,9&cuse me, irls, entlemen. ;isitors. *ra sure you can et alon toether )uite well without me.- 'e made his way to his study,
entered and closed the door "ehind him+a very special padded door that, when shut, rendered the room completely soundproof.
The study, in its own way+Lord Worth was no sy"arite "ut he li$ed his creature comforts as well as the ne&t man+was as
sumptuous as the dinin room. oa$, leather, a wholly unnecessary lo fire "urnin in one corner, all straiht from the "est 9nlish
"aronial mansions. The walls were lined with thousands of "oo$s, many of which Lord Worth had actually read, a fact that must
have caused reat distress to his illiterate ancestors, who had despised deeneracy a"ove all else.
A tall "ron#ed man with a)uiline features and ray hair rose to his feet. :oth men smiled and shoo$ hands warmly.
Lord Worth said% ,5orral, my dear chapF 'ow very nice to see you aain. ItAs "een )uite some time.-
,My pleasure, Lord Worth.A /othin recently that would have interested you.-
,:ut now@-
,/ow is somethin else aain.-
The 5orral who stood "efore Lord Worth was indeed the 5orral who, in his capacity as representative of the *lorida offshore
leases, had "een present at the meetin of ten at La$e Tahoe. 0ome years had passed since he and Lord Worth had arrived at an
amica"le and mutually satisfactory areement. 5orral, widely rearded as Lord WorthAs most avowedly determined enemy and
certainly the most vociferous of his critics, reported reularly to Lord Worth on the current activities and, more importantly, the
pro(ected plans of the ma(or companies, which didnAt hurt Lord Worth at all. 5orral, in return, received an annual ta&!free retainer of
JC33,333, which didnAt hurt him very much either.
Lord Worth pressed a "ell and within seconds Den$ins entered "earin a silver tray with two lare "randies. There was no telepathy
involved, (ust years of e&perience and a lon!esta"lished fore$nowlede of Lord WorthAs desires. When he left, "oth men sat.
Lord Worth said. ,Well, what news from the West@-
,The 5hero$ee, I reret to say, are after you.-
Lord Worth sihed and said. ,It had to come sometime. Tell me all.-
5orral told him all. 'e had a near!photoraphic memory and a ift for concise and accurate reportae. Within five minutes Lord
Worth $new all that was worth $nowin a"out the La$e Tahoe meetin.
Lord Worth who, "ecause of the unfortunate misunderstandin that had arisen "etween himself and 5ron$ite, $new the latter as
well as any and "etter than most, said at the end of 5orralAs report. ,8id 5ron$ite su"scri"e to the tenAs areement to a"(ure any form
of violence@-
,/ot that it would have mattered if he had. ManAs a total straner to the truth. And ten million dollarsA e&penses, you tell me@-
,It did seem a "it e&cessive.-
,5an you see a massive outlay li$e that "ein concomitant with anythin e&cept violence@-
,8o you thin$ the others "elieved that there was no connection "etween them@-
,Let me put it this way, sir. Any roup of people who can convince themselves, or appear to convince themselves, that any
proposed action aainst you is for the "etterment of man$ind is also prepared to convince themselves, or appear to convince
themselves, that the word A5ron$iteA is synonymous with peace on earth.-
,0o their consciences are clear. If 5ron$ite oes to any e&cessive lenths in death and destruction to achieve their ends, they can
always throw up their hands in horror and say, A?ood ?od, we never thouht the man would o that far.A /ot that any connection
"etween them and 5ron$ite would ever have to "e esta"lished. What a "unch of devious, mealymouthed hypocritesF-
'e paused for a moment.
,I suppose 5ron$ite refused to divule his plans@-
,A"solutely. :ut there is one odd circumstance. (ust as we were leavin, 5ron$ite drew two of the ten to one side and spo$e to
them privately. It would "e interestin to $now why.-
,Any chance of findin out@-
,A fair chance. /othin uaranteed. :ut IAm sure :enson could find out+after all, it was :enson who invited us all to La$e
,And you thin$ you could persuade :enson to tell you@-
,A fair chance. /othin more.-
Lord Worth put on his resined e&pression. ,All riht, how much@-
,/othin. Money wonAt "uy :enson.- 5orral shoo$ his head hi dis"elief. ,9&traordinary, in this day and ae, "ut :enson is not a
mercenary man. :ut he does owe me some favors, one of them "ein that, without me, he wouldnAt "e the president of the oil
company that he is now.- 5orral paused. ,IAm surprised you havenAt as$ed me the identities of the two men 5ron$ite too$ aside.-
,0o am I.-
,:orosoff of the 0oviet <nion and 6atinos of ;ene#uela.- Lord Worth appeared to lapse into a trance. ,That mean anythin to
Lord Worth "estirred himself. ,Yes. <nits of the Russian /avy are ma$in a so!called Aoodwill tourA of the 5ari""ean. They are,
inevita"ly, "ased in 5u"a. Of the ten, those are the only two that could "rin swift+ah+naval intervention to "ear aainst the
0eawitch.- 'e shoo$ his head. ,8ia"olical. <tterly dia"olical.-
,My way of thin$in too, sir. ThereAs no $nowin. :ut IAll chec$ as soon as possi"le and hope to et results,-
,And I shall ta$e immediate precautions.- :oth men rose. ,5orral, we shall have to ive serious consideration to the )uestion of
increasin this paltry retainer of yours.-
,We try to "e of service, Lord Worth.-
Lord WorthAs private radio room "ore more than a passin resem"lance to the fliht dec$ of his private K3K. The variety of $no"s,
switches, "uttons and dials was "ewilderin. Lord Worth seemed perfectly at home with them all, and proceeded to ma$e a num"er
of calls.
The first were to his four helicopter pilots, instructin them to have his two larest helicopters+never a man to do thins "y
halves, Lord Worth owned no fewer than si& of these machines+ready at his own private airfield shortly "efore dawn. The ne&t four
were to people of whose e&istence his fellow directors were totally unaware. The first of these calls was to 5u"a, the second to
;ene#uela. Lord WorthAs worldwide rane of contacts+employees, rather+was vast. The instructions to "oth were simple and
e&plicit. A constant monitorin watch was to "e $ept on the naval "ases in "oth countries, and any sudden departures of any naval
vessels, and their type, was to "e reported to him immediately.
The third, to a person who lived not too many miles away, was addressed to a certain ?iuseppe 6alermo, whose name sounded as
if he miht "e a mem"er of the Mafia, "ut who definitely wasnAt. the Mafia 6alermo despised as a mollycoddlin orani#ation which
had "ecome so ludicrously entle in its methods of persuasion as to "e in imminent daner of "ecomin respecta"le. The ne&t call
was to :aton Roue in Louisiana, where lived a person who called himself only ,5onde- and whose main claim to fame lay in the
fact that he was the hihest!ran$in naval officer to have "een court!martialed and dishonora"ly dischared since World War . 'e,
li$e the others, received very e&plicit instructions. /ot only was Lord Worth a master orani#er, "ut the efficiency he displayed was
matched only "y his speed in operation.
The no"le Lord, who would have stoutly maintained+if anyone had the temerity to accuse him, which no one ever had+that he
was no criminal, was a"out to "ecome (ust that. 9ven this he would have stronly denied, and that on three rounds. The
5onstitution upheld the riht of every citi#en to "ear arms% every man had the riht to defend himself and his property aainst
criminal attac$ "y whatever means lay to hand% and the only way to fiht fire was with fire.
The final call Lord Worth put throuh, and this time with total confidence, was to his tried and trusted lieutenant, 5ommander
5ommander Larsen was the captain of the 0eawitch.
Larsen+no one $new why he called himself ,5ommander,- and he wasnAt the $ind of person you as$ed+was a rather different
"reed of man from his employer. 9&cept in a pu"lic court or in the presence of a law officer, he would cheerfully admit to anyone
that he was "oth a non!entleman and a criminal. And he certainly "ore no resem"lance to any aristocrat, alive or dead. :ut there did
e&ist a enuine rapport and mutual respect "etween Lord Worth and himself. In all li$elihood they were simply "rothers under the
As a criminal and non!aristocrat+and castin no aspersions on honest unfortunates who may resem"le him+he certainly loo$ed
the part. 'e had the eneral "uild and appearance of the more viciously dauntin heavyweiht wrestler, deep!set "lac$ eyes that
peered out under the overhanin foliae of huely "ushy eye"rows, an e)ually "ushy "lac$ "eard, a hoo$ed nose, and a face that
loo$ed as if it had "een in reular contact with a series of heavy o"(ects. /o one, with the possi"le e&ception of Lord Worth, $new
who he was, what he had "een, or from where he had come. 'is voice, when he spo$e, came as a positive shoc$. "eneath that
/eanderthalic facade was the voice and the mind of an educated man. It really ouht not to have come as such a shoc$. "eneath the
facade of many an e&)uisite fop lies the mind of a retarded fourth!rader.
Larsen was in the radio room at that moment, listenin attentively, noddin from tune to time% then he flic$ed a switch that put the
incomin call on the loudspea$er.
'e said. ,All clear, sir. 9verythin understood. WeAll ma$e the preparations. :ut havenAt you overloo$ed somethin, sir@-
,Overloo$ed what@- Lord WorthAs voice over the telephone carried the overtones of a man who couldnAt possi"ly have overloo$ed
,YouAve suested that armed surface vessels may "e used aainst us. If theyAre prepared to o to such lenths, isnAt it feasi"le that
theyAll o to any lenths@-
,?et to the point, man.-
,The point is that itAs easy enouh to $eep an eye on a couple of naval "ases. :ut I suest itAs a "it more difficult to $eep an eye
on a do#en, may"e two do#en, airfields.-
,?ood ?odF- There was a lon pause durin which the rattle of cos and the meshin of ear wheels in Lord WorthAs "rain
couldnAt "e heard. ,8o you really thin$+-
,If I were the 0eawitch, Lord Worth, it would "e si& and half!a!do#en to me whether I was clo""ered "y shells or "om"s. And
planes could et away from the scene of the crime a damn siht faster than ships. They could et clean away, whereas the <. 0.
/avy or land!"ased "om"ers would have a ood chance of interceptin surface vessels. And another thin, Lord Worth+a ship
could stop at a distance of a hundred miles. /o distance at all for the uided missile. I "elieve they have a rane of four thousand
miles these days. When the missile was, say, twenty miles from us, they could switch on its heat!source trac$in device. ?od $nows,
weAre the only heat source for a hundred miles around.-
Another lenthy pause, then. ,Any more encourain thouhts occur to you, 5ommander Larsen@-
,Yes, sir. Dust one. If I were the enemy+I may call them the enemy+-
,5all the devils what you want.-
,AIf I were the enemy *d use a su"marine. They donAt even have to "rea$ the surface to loose off a missile. 6oofF /o 0eawitch. /o
sins of any attac$er. 5ould well "e put down to a massive e&plosion a"oard the 0eawitch. *ar from impossi"le, sir.-
,YouAll "e tellin me ne&t that theyAll "e atomic!headed missiles.-
ATo "e pic$ed up "y a do#en seismoloical stations@ I should thin$ it hardly li$ely, sir. :ut that may (ust "e wishful thin$in. I,
personally, have no wish to "e vapori#ed.-
,IAll see you hi the mornin.- The spea$er went dead.
Larsen hun up his phone and smiled widely. One miht have e&pected this action to reveal a set of yellowed fans. instead, it
revealed a perfect set of leamin(y white teeth. 'e turned to loo$ at 0coffield, his head driller and riht!hand man.
0coffield was a lare, ru"icund, smilin man, apparently the easyoin essence of ood nature. To the fact that this was not
precisely the case, any mem"er of his drillin crews would have eaerly and "lasphemously testified. 0coffield was a very touh
citi#en indeed, and one could assume that it was not innate modesty that made him conceal the fact. much more pro"a"ly it was a
permanent stricture of the facial muscles caused "y the four lon vertical scars on his chee$s, two on either side. 5learly he, li$e
Larsen, was no reat advocate of plastic surery. 'e loo$ed at Larsen with understanda"le ,curiosity.
,What was all that a"out@-
,The day of rec$onin is at hand. 6repare to meet thy doom. More specifically, his lordship is "eset "y enemies.- Larsen outlined
Lord WorthAs pliht. ,'eAs sendin what sounds li$e a "attalion of hard men out here in the early mornin, accompanied "y suita"le
weaponry. Then in the afternoon we are to e&pect a "oat of some sort, loaded with even heavier weaponry.-
,I wonder where heAs ettin all those hard men and weaponry from.A=
,One wonders. One does not as$.-
,All this tal$+your tal$+a"out "om"ers and su"marines and missiles. 8o you "elieve that@-
,/o. ItAs (ust that itAs hard to pass up the opportunity to ruffle the aristocratic plumae.- 'e paused, then said thouhtfully. ,At
least I hope I donAt "elieve it. 5ome on, let us e&amine our defenses.-
,YouAve ot a pistol. IAve ot a pistol. ThatAs defenses@-
,Well, where weAll mount the defenses when they arrive. *i&ed lare!"ore uns, I should imaine.-
,If they arrive.-
,?ive the devil his due. Lord Worth delivers.-
,*rom his own private armory, I suppose.-
,It wouldnAt surprise me.-
,What do you really thin$, 5ommander@-
,I donAt $now. All I $now is that if Lord
Worth is even halfway riht, life a"oard may "ecome slihtly less monotonous in the ne&t few days.-
The two men moved out into the atherin dus$ on the platform. The 0eawitch was moored in a hundred and fifty fathoms of
water!+nine hundred feet, which was well within the tension!in ca"les= capacities+safely south of the <.0. mineral leasin
"loc$s and the reat east!west fairway, riht on top of the "iest oil reservoir yet discovered around the shores of the ?ulf of
Me&ico. The two men paused at the drillin derric$ where a drill, at its ma&imum anled capacity, was tryin to determine the e&tent
of the oilfield. The crew loo$ed at them without any particular affection "ut not with hostility. There was reason for the lac$ of
:efore any laws were passed ma$in such drillin illeal, Lord Worth wanted to scrape the "ottom of this iantic "arrel of oil.
/ot that he was particularly worried, for overnment aencies are notoriously slow to act. "ut there was always the possi"ility that
they miht "estir themselves this time and that, horror of horrors, the "onan#a miht turn out to "e vastly larer than estimated.
'ence the present attempt to discover the limits of the stri$e and hence the lac$ of warmth. 'ence the reason why Larsen and
0coffield, "oth hihly ifted slave drivers, "orn centuries out of their time, drove their men day and niht. The men disli$ed it, "ut
not to the point of re"ellion. They were hihly paid, well!housed and well!fed. True, there was little enouh in the way of wine,
women and son, "ut then, after an e&haustin twelve!hour shift, those frivolities couldnAt hope to compete with the attractions of a
massive meal, then a lon, deep sleep. More importantly and most unusually, the men were paid a "onus on every thousand "arrels
of oil.
Larsen and 0coffield made their way to the western ape& of the platform and a#ed out at the massive "ul$ of the storae tan$, its
topsides festooned with warnin lihts. They a#ed at this for some tune, then turned and wal$ed "ac$ toward the accommodation
0coffield said. ,8ecided on your un emplacements yet, 5ommander+if there are any uns@-
,ThereAll "e uns.- Larsen was confident. ,:ut we wonAt need any in this )uarter.-
,Wor$ it out for yourself. As for the rest, *m not too sure. ItAll come to me in my sleep. My turn for an early niht. 0ee you at
The oil was not stored a"oard the ri+it is for"idden "y a law "ased strictly on common sense to store hydrocar"ons at or near the
wor$in platform of an oil ri. Instead, Lord Worth, on LarsenAs instructions+which had prudently come in the form of suestions
+had had "uilt a hue floatin tan$ which was anchored, on a "asis precisely similar to that of the 0eawitch herself, at a distance of
a"out three hundred yards. 5leaned oil was pumped into this after it came up from the ocean floor, or, more precisely, from a
massive limestone reef deep down "elow the ocean floor, a reef caused "y tiny marine creatures of a now lon!covered shallow sea
of some half a "illion years ao.
Once, sometimes twice, a day a 23,333!ton!capacity tan$er would stop "y and empty the hue tan$. There were three of those
tan$ers employed on the crisscross run to the southern <nited 0tates. The /orth 'udson Oil 5ompany did, in fact, have
supertan$ers, "ut the use of them in this case did not serve Lord WorthAs purpose. 9ven the entire contents of the 0ea!witchAs tan$
would not have filled a )uarter of the supertan$erAs carryin capacity, and the possi"ility of a supertan$er runnin at a loss, however
small, would have "een the source of wa$in nihtmares for the /orth 'udson. e)ually importantly, the more isolated ports which
Lord Worth favored for the delivery of his oil were una"le to offer deep!water "erthside facilities for anythin in e&cess of fifty
thousand tons.
It miht "e e&plained, in passin, that Lord WorthAs choice of those o"scure ports was not entirely fortuitous. Amon the parties to
the entlemenAs areement aainst offshore drillin, some of the most vociferous of those who roundly condemned /orth 'udsonAs
nefarious practices were, reretta"ly, /orth 'udsonAs "est customers. They were the smaller companies who operated on marinal
profits and lac$ed the resources to enae in research and e&ploration, which the larer companies did, investin alleedly vast sums
in those pro(ects and then, to the continuous fury of the Internal Revenue 0ervice and the aner of numerous 5onressional
investiation committees, claimin even vaster ta& e&emptions. :ut to the smaller companies the lure of cheaper oil was irresisti"le.
The 0eawitch, which pro"a"ly produced as much oil as all the overnment official leasin areas com"ined, seemed a sure and
perpetual source of cheap oil+at least until the overnment stepped in, which miht or miht not happen in the ne&t decade. the "i
companies had already demonstrated their capacity to deal with inept 5onressional in)uiries, and as lon as the enery crisis
continued no"ody was oin to worry very much a"out where oil came from, as lon as it came. In addition, the smaller companies
felt, if the O695+the Orani#ation of 6etroleum 9&portin 5ountries+ could play duc$s and dra$es with oil prices whenever they
feMt li$e it, why couldnAt they@
Less than two miles from Lord WorthAs estate were the ad(acent homes and com"ined office of Michael Mitchell and Dohn
Roomer. It was Mitchell who answered the door"ell. A
The visitor was of medium heiht, slihtly tu""y, wore wire!rimmed lasses, and alopecia had hit him hard. 'e said. ,May I come
in@- in a clipped "ut courteous enouh voice.
,0ure.- Michael Mitchell let him in to their apartment. ,We donAt usually see people this late.-
,Than$ you. I come on unusual "usiness. Dames :entley.- A little sleiht of hand and a card appeared. ,*:I.-
Mitchell didnAt even loo$ at it. ,You can have those thins made at any (o$e shop. Where you from@-
,6hone num"er@-
:entley reversed the card, which Mitchell handed to Roomer. ,My memory man. 0aves me from havin to have a memory of my
Roomer didnAt lance at the card either. ,ItAs o$ay, Mi$e. I have him. YouAre the "oss man up there, arenAt you@- A nod. ,6lease sit
down, Mr. :entley.-
,One thin clear, first,- Mitchell said. ,Are we under investiation@-
,On the contrary. The 0tate 8epartment has as$ed us to as$ you to help them.-
,0tatus at last,- Mitchell said. ,WeAve ot it made, Dohn+e&cept for one thin. the 0tate 8epartment doesnAt $now who the hell
we are.-
,I do.- 8iscussion closed. ,I understand you entlemen are friendly with Lord Worth.-
Roomer was careful. ,We $now him slihtly, socially+(ust as you seem to $now a little a"out us.-
,I $now a lot a"out you, includin the fact that you are a couple of e&!cops who never learned to loo$ the riht way at the riht
time and the wron way at the wron time. :ars the ladder to promotion. I want you to carry out a little investiation of Lord
,/o deal,- Mitchell said. ,We $now him slihtly "etter than slihtly.-
,'ear him out, Mi$e.- :ut RoomerAs face, too, had lost whatever little friendliness it may have held.
,Lord Worth has "een ma$in loud noises+ over the phone+to the 0tate 8epartment. 'e seems to "e sufferin from a
persecution comple&. This interests the 0tate 8epartment, "ecause they see him more in the role of the persecutor than persecuted.-
,You mean the *:I does,- Roomer said. ,YouAve had him in your files for years. Lord Worth always ives the impression of "ein
very capa"le of loo$in out for himself.-
,Thaf s precisely what intriues the 0tate 8epartment.-
Mitchell said. ,What $ind of noises@-
,/onsense noises. You $now he has an oil ri out in the ?ulf of Me&ico@-
,The 0eawitch@ Yes.-
,'e appears to "e under the impression that the 0eawitch is in mortal daner. 'e wants protection. ;ery modest in his demands, as
"ecomes a multimillionaire+a missile friate or two, some missile fihters standin "y, (ust in case.-
,In case of what@-
,ThatAs the )uestion. 'e refused to say. Dust said he had secret information+which, in fact, wouldnAt surprise me. The Lord
Worths of this world have their secret aents everywhere.-
,YouAd "etter level with us,- Mitchell said.
,IAve told you all I $now. The rest is surmise. 5allin the 0tate 8epartment means that there are forein countries involved. There
are 0oviet naval vessels in the 5ari""ean at present. The 0tate 8epartment smells an international incident or worse.-
,What do you want us to do@-
,/ot much. Dust to find out Lord WorthAs intended movements for the ne&t day or two.-
Mitchell said. ,And if we refuse@ We have our licenses rescinded@-
,I am not a corrupt police chief. If you refuse, you can (ust foret that you ever saw me. :ut I thouht you miht care enouh
a"out Lord Worth to help protect him aainst himself or the conse)uences of any rash action he miht ta$e. I thouht you miht care
even more a"out the reactions of his two dauhters if anythin were to happen to their father.-
Mitchell stood up, (er$ed a thum", ,The door. You $now too damn much.-
,0it down.- A sudden!chill asperity. ,8onAt "e foolish. itAs my (o" to $now too damn much. :ut apart from Lord Worth and his
family, I thouht you miht have some little concern for your countryAs welfare.-
Roomer said. ,IsnAt that pitchin it a little hih@-
B;ery possi"ly. :ut it is the policy of the 0tate 8epartment, the Dustice 8epartment and the *:I not to ta$e any chances.-
Roomer said. ,YouAre puttin us in a damned aw$ward situation.-
,8onAt thin$ I donAt appreciate that. I $now Tve put you on a spot and IAm sorry, "ut IAm afraid youAll have to resolve that particular
dilemma yourselves.-
Mitchell said. ,Than$s for droppin this little pro"lem in our laps. What do you e&pect us to do@ ?o to Lord Worth, as$ him why
heAs "een hollerin to the 0tate 8epartment, as$ him what heAs up to and what his immediate plans are@-
:entley smiled. ,/othin so crude. You have a reputation+e&cept, of course, in the police department+of "ein, in the street
phrase, a couple of slic$ operators. The approach is up to you.- 'e stood. ,Heep that card and let me $now when you find out
anythin. 'ow lon would that ta$e, do you thin$@-
Roomer said. ,A couple of hours.-
,A couple of hours@- 9ven :entley seemed momentarily ta$en a"ac$. ,You donAt, then, re)uire an invitation to visit the "aronial
,Millionaires do.-
,We arenAt even thousandaires.-
,It ma$es a difference. Well, than$ you very much, entlemen. ?oodniht.-
After :entleyAs departure the two men sat for a couple of minutes in silence, then Mitchell said. ,We play it "oth ways@-
,We play it every way.- Roomer reached for a phone, dialed a num"er and as$ed for Lord Worth. 'e had to identify himself
"efore he was put throuh+Lord Worth was a man who respected his privacy.
Roomer said. ,Lord Worth@ Roomer. Mitchell and I have somethin to discuss with you, sir, which may or may not "e of urency
and importance. We would prefer not to discuss it over the phone.- 'e paused, listened for a few moments, murmured a than$ you
and hun up.
,'eAll see us riht away. 0ays to par$ the car in the lane. 0ide door. 0tudy. 0ays the irls have one upstairs.-
,Thin$ our friend :entley already has our phone tapped@-
,/ot worth his *:I salt if he hasnAt.-
*ive minutes later, car par$ed in the lane, they were ma$in their way throuh the trees to
0ea witch
the side door. Their proress was o"served with interest "y Marina, standin "y the window in .her upstairs "edroom. 0he loo$ed
thouhtful for a moment, then turned and unhurriedly left the room.
Lord Worth welcomed the two men in his study and securely closed the padded door "ehind them. 'e swun open the doors of a
concealed "ar and poured three "randies. There were times when one ran for Den$ins and there were times when one didnAt. 'e
lifted his lass.
,'ealth. An une&pected pleasure.-
,ItAs no pleasure for us,- Roomer said loom!ay.
,Then you havenAt come to as$ me for my dauhtersA hands in marriae@-
,/o, sir,- Mitchell said. ,/o such luc$. Dohn here is "etter at e&plainin these thins.-
,What thins@-
,WeAve (ust had a visit from a senior *:I aent.- Roomer handed over :entleyAs card. ,ThereAs a num"er on the "ac$ that weAre to
rin when weAve e&tracted some information from you.-
,'ow very interestin.- There was a lon pause, then Lord Worth loo$ed at each man in turn. ,What $ind of information@-
,In :entleyAs words, you have "een ma$in Aloud noisesA to the 0tate 8epartment. Accordin to them, you seem to thin$ that the is
under threat. They want to $now where you ot this secret information, and what your proposed movements are.-
,Why didnAt the *:I come directly to me@A=
,:ecause you wouldnAt have told them any more than you told the 0tate 8epartment. If, that is to say, youAd even let them over the
threshold of your house. :ut they $now+:entley told us this+that we come across here now and aain, so I suppose they fiured
youAd "e less off your uard with us.-
,0o :entley fiures that youAd craftily wrin some careless tal$ from me without my "ein aware that I was tal$in carelessly.-
,0omethin li$e that.-
,:ut doesnAt this put you in a somewhat invidious position@-
,/ot really.-
,:ut youAre supposed to uphold the law, no@-
,Yes.- Mitchell spo$e with some feelin. ,:ut not orani#ed law. Or have you forotten, Lord Worth, that weAre a couple of e&!
cops "ecause we wouldnAt o alon with your so!called orani#ed law@ Our only responsi"ility is to our clients.-
Tm not your client.-
,Would you li$e me to "e your client@-
Roomer said. ,What on earth for@-
,ItAs never somethin for nothin in this world, Dohn. 0ervices have to "e rewarded.-
,*ailure of a mission.- Mitchell was on his feet. ,/ice of you to see us, Lord Worth.-
,I apoloi#e.- Lord Worth sounded enuinely contrite. ATm afraid I rather stepped out of line there.- 'e paused ruminatively, then
smiled. ,Dust tryin to recall when last I apoloi#ed to any"ody. I seem to have a short memory. :Dess my lovely dauhters.
Information for our friends of the *:I@ *irst, I received my information in conte&t of several anonymous threats+telephone calls+
on the lives of my dauhters. A dou"le!"arreled threat, if you will, aainst the irls if I didnAt stop the flow of oil. As they pointed
out, I canAt hide them forever and thereAs nothin one can do aainst a sniperAs "ullet+and if I were too difficult theyAd have the
0eawitch "lown out of the water. As for my future movements, IAm oin out to the 0eawitch tomorrow afternoon and will remain
there for twenty!four hours, perhaps forty!eiht.-
Roomer said. ,Any truth in either of those two statements@-
,8onAt "e preposterous., Of course not. I am oin out to the ri+"ut "efore dawn. I donAt want those "eady!eyed "andits
watchin me from the underrowth at my heliport as I ta$e off.-
,You are referrin to the *:I, sir@-
,Who else@ Will that do for the moment@-
They wal$ed "ac$ to the lane in silence.
Roomer ot in "ehind the wheel of the car, Mitchell "eside him.
Roomer said. ,Well, well, well.-
,Well, as you say, well, well, well. 5rafty old devil.-
MarinaAs voice came from the "ac$. ,5rafty he may "e, "ut+-
0he "ro$e off in a asp as Mitchell whirled hi his seat and Roomer switched on his interior lihts. The "arrel of Mitchel*s .E4 was
lined up "etween her eyes, eyes at the moment wide with shoc$ and fear.
Mitchell said in a soft voice. ,8onAt ever do that to me aain. /e&t time it may "e too late.-
0he lic$ed her lips. 0he was normally as hih!spirited and independent as she was "eautiful, "ut it is a rather disconcertin thin
to loo$ down the mu##le of a pistol for the first time in your life. ,I was (ust oin to say that he may "e crafty "ut heAs neither old
nor a devil. Will you please put that un away@ You donAt point uns at people you love.-
MitchelTs un disappeared. 'e said. ,You shouldnAt fall in love with cra#y youn fools.-
,Or spies.- Roomer was loo$in at Melinda. ,What are you two doin here@-
Melinda was more composed than her sister. After all, she hadnAt had to loo$ down the "arrel of a pistol. 0he said. ,And you, Dohn
Roomer, are a crafty youn devil. YouAre (ust stallin for time.- Which was )uite true.
,WhatAs that supposed to mean@G
,It means youAre thin$in furiously of the answer to the same )uestion weAre a"out to as$ you. What are you two doin here@-
,ThatAs none of your "usiness.- RoomerAs normally soft!spo$en voice was unaccustomedly and deli"erately harsh.
There was a silence from the "ac$ seat, "oth irls reali#in that there was more to the men than they had thouht, and the ap
"etween their social and professional lives wider than they had thouht.
Mitchell sihed. ,LetAs cool it, Dohn. An unrateful child is sharper than a serpentAs tooth.-
,DesusF- Roomer shoo$ his head. ,You can say that aain.- 'e hadnAt the faintest idea what Mitchell was tal$in a"out.
Mitchell said. ,Why donAt you o to your father and as$ him@ IAm sure heAll tell you+ alon with the rouhest chewin!out youAve
ever had for interferin in his private "usiness.- 'e ot out, opened the rear door, waited until the sisters ot out, closed the rear
door, said A?oodnihtA and returned to his seat, leavin the irls standin uncertainly at the side of the road.
Roomer drove off. 'e said. ,;ery masterful, thouh I didnAt li$e our doin it. ?od $nows, they meant no harm. In any case, it may
stand us in ood stead in the future.-
,ItAll stand us in even "etter stead if we et to the phone "ooth riht around the corner as soon as we can.-
They reached the "ooth in fifteen seconds, and one minute later Mitchell emered from it. As he too$ his seat Roomer said. ,What
was all that a"out@-
,0orry, private matter.- Mitchell handed Roomer a piece of paper. Roomer switched on the overhead liht. On the paper Mitchell
had scrawled. ,This car "ued@-
Roomer said. ,O$ay "y me.- They drove home in silence. 0tandin in his carport Roomer said. ,What ma$es you thin$ my carAs
,/othin. 'ow far do you trust :entley@-
,You $now how far. :ut he+or one of his men+wouldnAt have had time.-
,*ive seconds isnAt a lon time. ThatAs all the tune it ta$es to attach a manetic clamp.-
They searched the car, then Mitchelts. :oth were clean. In MitchellAs $itchen Roomer said. ,Your phone call@-
AThe old "oy, of course. I ot to him "efore the irls did. Told him what had happened and that he was to tell them heAd received
threats aainst their lives, that he $new the source, that he didnAt trust the local law and so had sent for us to deal with the matter.
5auht on at once. Also to ive them hell for interferin.-
Roomer said. ,'eAll convince them.-
,More importantly, did he convince you@G
,/o. 'e thin$s fast on his feet and lies even faster. 'e wanted to find out how seriously he would "e ta$en in the case of a real
emerency. 'e now has the preliminary evidence that he is "ein ta$en seriously. You have to hand it to him+as devious as they
come. I suppose we tell :entley e&actly what he told us to tell him@-
,What else@-
,8o you "elieve what he told us@-
,That he has his own private intellience corps@ I wouldnAt )uestion it for a moment. That heAs oin out to the 0eawitch@ I
"elieve that, too. IAm not so sure a"out his timin, thouh. WeAre to tell :entley that heAs leavin in the afternoon. 'e told us heAs
leavin a"out dawn. If he can lie to :entley he can lie to us. I donAt $now why he should thin$ it necessary to lie to us, pro"a"ly (ust
his second nature. I thin$ heAs oin to leave much sooner than that.-
Roomer said. ,Me, too, IAm afraid. If I intended to "e up at dawnAs early liht IAd "e in "ed "y now or headin that way. 'e showed
no sin of oin to "ed, so I conclude he has no intention of oin to "ed, "ecause it wouldnAt "e worth his while.- 'e paused. ,0o.
A dou"le sta$e!out@-
,I thouht so. <p "y Lord WorthAs house and down "y his heliport. You for the heliport, me for the tail (o"@-
,What else@- Mitchell was possessed of phenomenal niht!siht. 9&cept on the very "lac$est of nihts he could drive without any
lihts at all.
ATil hole up "ehind the west spinney. You $now it@-
,I $now it. 'ow a"out you feedin the story to :entley while I ma$e a couple of thermoses of coffee and some sandwiches@-
,*ine.- Roomer reached for the phone, then paused. ,Listen, why are we doin all this@ We donAt owe the *:I anythin. We have
no authority from anyone to do anythin. You said it yourself. we and orani#ed law wal$ in different directions. I donAt feel IAm
under any o"liation to save my country from a none&istent threat. WeAve ot no client, no commission, no prospect of fees. Why
should we care if Lord Worth stic$s his head into a noose@-
Mitchell paused in slicin "read. ,As far as your last )uestion is concerned, why donAt you call up Melinda and as$ her@-
Roomer ave him a lon, )ui##ical loo$, sihed and reached for the telephone.
Chapter 3
5O**I9L8 had "een wron in his uess. Lord Worth was possessed of no private arsenal. :ut the <nited 0tates armed services
were, and in their do#ens, at that.
The two "rea$!ins were accomplished with the professional e&pertise "orn of a lon and arduous practice that precluded any
possi"ility of mista$es. The tarets in "oth cases were overnment arsenals, one army and one naval. :oth, naturally, were manned
"y round!the!cloc$ uards, none of whom was $illed or even in(ured if one were to disreard the cranial contusions+and those were
few+caused "y sand"ain and sappin. Lord Worth had "een very e&plicit on the use of minimal violence.
?iuseppe 6alermo, who loo$ed and dressed li$e a successful Wall 0treet "ro$er, had the more difficult tas$ of the two, althouh,
as a man who held the Mafia in tolerant contempt, he rearded the e&ercise as almost childishly easy. Accompanied "y nine almost
e)ually respecta"le men+sartorially respecta"le, that is+three of whom were dressed as army ma(ors, he arrived at the *lorida
arms depot at fifteen minutes to midniht. The si& youn uards, none of whom had even seen or heard a shot fired in aner, were at
their drowsiest and e&pectin nothin "ut their midniht reliefs. Only two were really fully awa$e+the other four had do#ed away
+and those two, respondin to a heavy and peremptory hammerin on the main entrance door, were distur"ed, not to say hihly
alarmed, "y the appearance of three army officers who announced that they were ma$in a snap inspection to test security and
alertness. *ive minutes later all si& were "ound and aed+two of them uncon!cious and due to wa$e up with very sore heads
"ecause of their misuided attempts to put up a show of resistance+and safely loc$ed up in one of the many so!called secure rooms
in the depot.
8urin this period and the ne&t twenty minutes, one of 6alermoAs men, an electronics e&pert called Damieson, made a thorouh
search for all the e&ternal alarm sinals to "oth the police and nearest military 'O. 'e either "ypassed or disconnected them all.
It was when he was enaed in this that the relief uards, almost as drowsy as those whom they had "een e&pectin to find, made
their appearance and were hihly disconcerted to find themselves loo$in at the mu##les of three machine car"ines. Within minutes,
securely "ound "ut not aed, they had (oined the previous uards, whose as were now removed. They could now shout until
doomsday, as the nearest ha"itation was more than a mile away. the temporary ain of the first si& uards had "een merely for
the purpose of preventin their warnin off their reliefs.
6alermo now had almost eiht hours "efore the "rea$!in could "e discovered.
'e sent one of his men, Wat$ins, to "rin round to the front the concealed mini"us in which they had arrived. All of them, Wat$ins
e&cepted, chaned from their conservative clothin and military uniforms into rouh wor$clothes, which resulted in rather
remar$a"le chanes in their appearance and character. While they were doin this, Wat$ins went to the depot arae, pic$ed a
surprisinly ineffectual loc$, selected a two!ton truc$, hot!wired the inition+the $eys were, understanda"ly, missin+and drove
out to the already open main loadin doors of the depot.
6alermo had "rouht alon with him one "y the name of Daco"son who, "etween so(ourns in various penitentiaries, had developed
to a remar$a"le deree the fine art of openin any type of loc$, com"ination or otherwise. *ortunately his services were not needed,
for no"ody, curiously enouh, had ta$en the trou"le to conceal some score of $eys hanin on the wall in the main office.
In less than half an hour 6alermo and his men had loaded a"oard the truc$+chosen "ecause it was a covered!van type+a
staerin variety of weaponry, ranin from "a#oo$as to machine pistols, toether with sufficient ammunition for a "attalion and a
considera"le amount of hih e&plosives. Then they reloc$ed the doors and too$ the $eys with them+when the ne&t relief arrived at
eiht in the mornin it would ta$e them that much loner to discover what had actually happened. After that, they loc$ed the loadin
and main entrance doors.
Wat$ins drove the mini"us, with its load of discarded clothes, "ac$ to its place of concealment, returned to the truc$ and drove off.
The other nine sat or lay in varyin derees of discomfort amon the weaponry in the "ac$. It was as well for them that it was only
twenty minutesA drive to Lord WorthAs private, isolated and deserted heliport+deserted, that is, e&cept for two helicopters, their
pilots and copilots.
The truc$, usin only its sidelihts, came throuh the ates of the heliport and drew up alonside one of the helicopters.
8iscreet porta"le loadin lihts were switched on, castin hardly more than a dull low, "ut sufficient for a man only eihty yards
away and e)uipped with a pair of niht lasses to distinuish clearly what was oin on. And Roomer, prone in the spinney with the
"inoculars to his eyes, was only eihty yards away. /o attempt had "een made to wrap or in any way to disuise the nature of the
caro. It too$ only twenty minutes to unload the truc$ and stow its contents away in the helicopter under the watchful eye of a pilot
with a $een reard for weiht distri"ution.
6alermo and his men, with the e&ception of Wat$ins, "oarded the other helicopter and sat "ac$ to await promised reinforcements.
The pilot of this helicopter had already, as was customary, radio!filed his fliht plan to the nearest airport, accurately ivin his
destination as the 0eawitch. To have done otherwise would have "een foolish indeed. The radar trac$in systems alon the ?ulf
states are as efficient as any in the world, and any course deviation from a falsely declared destination would have meant that, in
very short order, two hihly suspicious pilots in supersonic (ets would "e flyin alonside and as$in some very unpleasant
Wat$ins drove the truc$ "ac$ to the arae, Dewired the inition, loc$ed the door, retrieved the mini"us and left. :efore dawn, all
his friends= clothes would have "een returned to their apartments, and the mini"us, which had of course "een stolen, to its par$in
Roomer was ettin "ored and his el"ows were "ecomin sore. 0ince the mini"us had driven away some half hour ao he had
remained in the same prone position, his niht lasses seldom far from his eyes. 'is sandwiches were one, as was all his coffee,
and he would have iven much for a ciarette "ut decided it would "e unwise. 5learly those a"oard the helicopters were waitin for
somethin, and that somethin could only "e the arrival of Lord Worth.
'e heard the sound of an approachin enine and saw another vehicle, with only sidelihts on, turn throuh the ateway. It was
another mini"us. Whoever was inside was not the man he was waitin for, he $new. Lord Worth was not much iven to travelin in
mini"uses. The vehicle drew up alonside the passener helicopter and its passeners disem"ar$ed and clim"ed a"oard the
helicooter. Roomer counted twelve in all.
The last was (ust disappearin inside the helicopter when another vehicle arrived. This one didnAt pass throuh the ateway% it
swept throuh it, with only par$in lihts on. A Rolls Royce. Lord Worth, for a certainty. As if to redou"le his certainty, there caine
to his ears the soft swish of tires on the rass. 'e twisted round to see a car, "oth lihts and enine off, coastin to a soundless stop
"eside his own.
,Over here,- Roomer called softly. Mitchell (oined him, and toether they watched the white!clad fiure of Lord Worth leave the
Rolls and mount the steps to the helicopter. ,I uess that completes the payload for the niht.-
,The payload "ein@-
,There are twenty!one other passeners a"oard that machine. I canAt swear to it, "ut instinct tells me they are not honest, upriht
citi#ens. They say that every multimillionaire has his own private army. I thin$ IAve (ust seen one of Lord WorthAs platoons filin "y.-
,The second chopperAs not involved@-
,It sure is. ItAs the star of the show+loaded to the unwales with armament.-
,ThatPs not a crime in itself. 5ould "e part of Lord WorthAs private collection. 'eAs ot one of the "iest in the country.-
,6rivate citi#ens arenAt allowed to have "a#oo$as, machine uns and hih e&plosives in their collections.-
,'e "orrowed them, you thin$@-
,Yeah. Without payment or receipt.-
,The nearest overnment arsenal@-
,IAd say so.-
,TheyAre still sittin there. May"e theyAre waitin a preset time "efore ta$eoff. Miht "e some time. LetAs o to one of the cars and
radio the law.-
,The nearest army command post is seven miles from here.-
The two men were on their feet and had ta$en only two steps toward the cars when, almost simultaneously, the enines of "oth
helicopters started up with their usual clatterin roar. 0econds later "oth machines lifted off.
Mitchell said. ,Well, it was a thouht.-
, AWasA is riht. Loo$ at Aem o. honest ?odfearin citi#ens with all their naviational lihts on.-
,ThatAs in case someone "umps into them,- Mitchell said. ,We could call up the nearest air force "ase and have them forced
,On what rounds@-
,0tolen overnment property.-
,/o evidence. Dust our say!so. TheyAll find out Lord Worth is a"oard. WhoAs oin to ta$e the word of a couple of "usted cops
aainst his@-
,/o one. A so"erin thouht. 9ver felt li$e a pariah@-
,Li$e now. I feel oddamned helpless. Well, letAs o and find some evidence. WhereAs the nearest arsenal from here@-
,A"out a mile from the command post. I $now where.-
,Why donAt they $eep their damned arsenals inside the command posts@-
,:ecause ammunition can and does "low up. 'ow would you li$e to "e sittin in a crowded "arrac$s when an ammo dump "lew
up ne&t door@-
Roomer straihtened from the $eyhole of the main door of the arms depot and reluctantly poc$eted the very lare set of $eys
which any ill!disposed law officer could have (ailed him for carryin.
,I thouht I could open any door with this "unch. :ut not this one. ?ive you one uess where the $eys are now.-
,6ro"a"ly sailin down from a chopper into the ?ulf.-
,Riht. Those loadin doors have the same loc$. :esides that, nothin "ut "arred windows. You donAt have a hac$saw on you, do
you, Mi$e@-
,I will ne&t time.- 'e shone his flashliht throuh one of the "arred windows. All he could see was his own reflection. 'e too$
out his pistol and, holdin it "y the "arrel, struc$ the heavy "utt several times aainst the lass, without any noticea"le effect+
hardly surprisin, considerin that the window lay several inches "eyond the "ars and the force of the "lows was minimal.
Roomer said. ,What are you tryin to do@-
Mitchell was patient. ,:rea$ the lass.-
,:rea$in the lass wonAt help you et inside.-
,ItAll help me see and may"e hear. I wonder if thatAs (ust plate lass or armored stuff.- ,'ow should I $now@-
,Well, weAll find out. If itAs armored, the "ullet will ricochet. ?et down.- :oth men crouched and Mitchell fired one shot at an
upward anle. The "ullet did not ricochet. It passed throuh, leavin a (aed hole with radiatin crac$s. Mitchell "ean chippin
away round the hole "ut desisted when Roomer appeared with a heavy car ( ac$!handle. a few powerful "lows and Roomer had a
hole almost a foot in diameter. Mitchell shone his flash throuh this. an office lined with filin ca"inets and an open door "eyond.
'e put his ear as close to the hole as possi"le and he heard it at once, the faint "ut unmista$a"le sound of metal clanin aainst
metal and the shoutin of unmista$a"ly hoarse voices. Mitchell withdrew his head and nodded to Roomer, who leaned forward and
listened in turn.
Roomer straihtened and said. ,There are a lot of frustrated people in there.-
A"out a mile "eyond the entrance to the army command post they stopped "y a roadside telephone "ooth. Mitchell telephoned the
army post, told them the state of defenses at their arsenal "uildin would "ear investiation and that it would "e advisa"le for them
to "rin alon a duplicate set of $eys for the main door. When as$ed who was spea$in he hun up and returned to RoomerAs car.
AToo late to call in the Air *orce now, I suppose@-
,Too late. TheyAll "e well out over e&traterritorial waters "y now. ThereAs no state of war. /ot yet.- 'e sihed. ,Why, oh why,
didnAt I have an infrared movie camera toniht@-
Over in Mississippi 5ondeAs tas$ of "rea$in into the naval depot there turned out to "e ridiculously easy. 'e had with him only
si& men, althouh he had si&teen more waitin in reserve a"oard the >C3!foot vessel Roomer, which was tied up doc$side less than
thirty feet from the arsenal. Those men had already effectively neutrali#ed the three armed uards who patrolled the doc$ area at
The arsenal was uarded "y only two retired naval petty officers, who rearded their (o" not only as a sinecure "ut downriht
nonsense, for who in his riht mind would want to steal depth chares and naval uns@ It was their invaria"le custom to prepare
themselves for sleep immediately upon arrival, and asleep they soundly were when 5onde and his men entered throuh the door they
hadnAt even "othered to loc$.
They used two for$lift truc$s to trundle depth chares, liht, dual!purpose antiaircraft uns, and a sufficiency of shells down to the
doc$side, then used one of the scores of cranes that lined the doc$side to lower the stolen e)uipment into the hold of the Roamer,
which was then "attened down. 5learin customs was the merest formality. The customs official had seen the Roamer come and o
so many times that they had lon ao lost count. :esides, no one was oin to have the temerity to inspect the oceanoin property
of one of the very richest men in the world. the Roamer was Lord WorthAs seismo!loical survey vessel.
At its "ase not far from 'avana, a small, conventionally powered and Russian!"uilt su"marine slipped its moorins and )uietly
put out to sea. The hastily assem"led "ut nonetheless hand!pic$ed crew was informed that they were on a trainin cruise desined to
test the seaoin readiness of 5astroAs tiny fleet. /ot a man a"oard "elieved a word of this.
Meanwhile 5ron$ite had not "een idle. <nli$e the others, he had no need to "rea$ into any place to o"tain e&plosives. 'e had
merely to use his own $ey. As the worldAs top e&pert in cappin "la#in ushers he had access to an unlimited num"er and reat
variety of e&plosives. 'e made a selection of those and had them truc$ed down to ?alveston from 'ouston, where he lived% apart
from the fact that 'ouston was the oil!ri center of the 0outh, the nature of 5ron$iteAs "usiness made it essential for him to live
within easy reach of an airport with international connections.
As the truc$ was on its way, another seismoloical vessel, a converted coast uard cutter, was also closin in on ?alveston.
Without e&plainin his reasons for needin the vessel, 5ron$ite had o"tained it throuh the ood offices of 8urant, who had
represented the ?alveston!area companies at the meetin of the ten at La$e Tahoe. The cutter, which went "y the name of Ti"uron,
was normally "ased at *reeport, and 5ron$ite could )uite easily have ta$en the shipment there, "ut this would not have suited his
purpose. The tan$er 5rusader was unloadin at ?alveston, and the 5rusader was one of the three tan$ers that plied reularly
"etween the 0eawitch and the ?ulf ports.
The Ti"uron and 5ron$ite arrived almost simultaneously sometime after midniht. Mul!hooney, the Ti"urorfs s$ipper, eased his
ship into a "erth conveniently close to the 5rusader. Mulhooney was not the reular captain of the Ti"uron. That entleman had "een
so overcome "y the siht of two thousand dollars in cash that he had fallen ill, and would remain so for a few days. 5ron$ite had
recommended his friend Mulhooney. 5ron$ite didnAt immediately o a"oard the Ti"uron. Instead he chatted with a niht!duty doc$
inspector, who watched with an idle eye as what were o"viously e&plosives were transferred to the Ti"uron. The two men had
$nown each other for years. Apart from o"servin that someone out in the ?ulf must have "een careless with matches aain, the port
official had no further pertinent comment to ma$e. In response to idle )uestionin, 5ron$ite learned that the 5rusader had finished
off!loadin its caro and would "e sailin in appro&imately one hour.
'e "oarded the Ti"uron, reeted Mulhooney and went straiht to the crewAs mess. 0eated amon the others at this early hour were
three divers already fully clad in wetsuits. 'e ave "rief instructions and the three men went on dec$. <nder cover of the
superstructure and on the side of the ship remote from the doc$ the three men donned scu"a ear, went down a rope ladder and slid
)uietly into the water. 0i& o"(ects + radio!detonated manetic mines e)uipped with metallic clamps + were lowered to them. They
were so constructed as to have a very sliht neative "uoyancy, which made them easy to tow under water.
In the predawn dar$ness the hulls of the vessels cast so heavy a shadow from the powerful shorelihts that the men could have
swum uno"served on the surface. :ut 5ron$ite was not much iven to ta$in chances. The mines were attached alon the stern half
of the 5rusaderAs hull, thirty feet apart and at a depth of a"out ten feet. *ive minutes after their departure the scu"a divers were "ac$.
After a further five minutes the Ti"uron put out to sea.
8espite his near!leendary reputation for ruth!lessness, 5ron$ite had not lost touch with humanity. to say that he was possessed of
an innate $indliness would have "een a distortion of the truth, for he was a"ove all an uncompromisin and sinle!minded realist,
"ut one with no innate $iller instinct. /onetheless, there were two thins that would at that moment have iven him considera"le
The first of those was that he would have preferred to have the 5rusader at sea "efore pressin the sheathed "utton "efore him on
the "ride. 'e had no wish that innocent lives should "e lost in ?alveston, "ut it was a chance that he had to ta$e. Limpet mines, as
the Italian divers had proved at Ale&andria in World War +and this to the reat distress of the Royal /avy+ could "e devastatinQ
effective aainst moored vessels. :ut what miht happen to hih!"uoyancy limpets when a ship ot under way and wor$ed up to
ma&imum speed was impossi"le to forecast, as there was no $nown case of a vessel under way havin "een destroyed "y limpet
mines. It was at least possi"le that water pressure on a ship under way miht well overcome the tenuous manetic hold of the
limpets and tear them free.
The second temptation was to "oard the helicopter on the Ti"urorfs after helipad+many such vessels carried helicopters for the
purpose of havin them drop patterned e&plosives on the sea"ed to reister on the seismoloical computer+and have a close loo$ at
what would "e the ensuin havoc, a temptation he immediately rearded as pure self!indulence.
'e put "oth thouhts from his mind. 9iht miles out from ?alveston he unscrewed the covered switch and leaned firmly on the
"utton "eneath. The immediate results were wholly unspectacular, and 5ron$ite feared that they miht "e out of radio rane. :ut in
the port area in ?alveston the results were hihly spectacular. 0i& shatterin e&plosions occurred almost simultaneously, and within
twenty seconds the 5rusader, her stern section torn in half, developed a mar$ed list to star"oard as thousands of tons of water poured
throuh the ruptured side. Another twenty seconds later the distant rum"le of the e&plosions reached the ears of listeners on the
Ti"uron. 5ron$ite and Mulhooney, alone on the "ride+the ship was on automatic pilot+ loo$ed at each other with rim
satisfaction. Mulhooney, an Irishman with a true IrishmanAs sense of occasion, produced an opened "ottle of champane and poured
two "rimmin lassfuls. 5ron$ite, who normally detested the stuff, consumed his drin$ with considera"le relish and set his lass
down. It was then that the 5rusader cauht fire.
Its asoline tan$s, true, were empty, "ut its enine diesel fuel tan$s were almost completely topped up. In normal circumstances
inited diesel does not e&plode "ut "urns with a ferocious intensity. Within seconds the smo$e!veined flames had risen to a heiht of
two hundred feet, the heiht increasin with each moment until the whole city was "athed in a crimson low, a phenomenon which
the citi#ens of ?alveston had never seen "efore and would almost certainly never see aain. 9ven a"oard the Ti"uron the spectacle
had an awe!inspirin and unearthly )uality a"out it. Then, as suddenly as it had "eun, the fire stopped as the 5rusader turned
completely over on its side, the har"or waters )uenchin the flames into hissin e&tinction. 0ome patches of floatin oil still
flic$ered fee"ly across the har"or, "ut that was all that there was to it.
5learly Lord Worth was oin to re)uire a new tan$er, a re)uirement that presented )uite a pro"lem. In this area of a ross
oversupply of tan$ers, any one of scores of laid!up supertan$ers could "e had (ust throuh e&ercisin enouh strenth to lift a
telephone. :ut 23,333!ton tan$ers, thouh not a dyin "reed, were a dwindlin "reed, principally "ecause the main shipyards
throuhout the world had stopped producin them. ,'ad- is the operative word. Heels of that si#e and even smaller were now "ein
hastily laid down, "ut would not "e in full operation for a year or two to come. The reason was perfectly simple. 0upertan$ers on the
Ara"ian ?ulf!9urope run had to ma$e the lon and prohi"itively e&pensive circuit around the 5ape of ?ood 'ope "ecause the
newly reopened 0ue# 5anal could not accommodate their immense draft, a pro"lem that presented no difficulties to smaller tan$ers.
It was said, and pro"a"ly with more than a rain of truth, that the notoriously wily ?ree$ shipowners had esta"lished a corner on this
particular mar$et. The dawn was in the s$y.
At that precise moment there were scenes of considera"le activity around and a"oard the 0eawitch. The 6anamanian!reistered
tan$er Tor"etto was (ust finishin off!loadin the contents of the 0eawitcWs massive floatin conical oil tan$. As they were doin
so, two helicopters appeared over the northeastern hori#on. :oth were very lare 0i$ors$y machines which had "een "ouht "y the
thrifty Lord Worth for the traditional son, not "ecause they were o"solete "ut "ecause they were two of the scores that had "ecome
redundant since the end of the ;ietnam War, and the armed forces had "een only too an&ious to et rid of them. civilian demand for
e&!unships is not hih.
The first of those to land on the helipad de"ar$ed twenty!two men, led "y Lord Worth and ?iuseppe 6alermo. The other twenty,
who from their appearance were not much iven to carin for widows and orphans, all carried with them the impecca"le credentials
of oil e&perts of one type or another. That they were e&perts was "eyond )uestion% what was e)ually "eyond )uestion was that none
of them would have reconi#ed a "arrel of oil if he had fallen into it. They were e&perts in divin, underwater demolition, the
handlin of hih e&plosives, and the accurate firin of a variety of unpleasant weapons.
The second helicopter arrived immediately after the first had ta$en off. 9&cept for the pilot and copilot, it carried no other human
caro. What it did carry was the immense and varied )uantity of hihly offensive weapons from the *lorida arsenal, the loss of
which had not yet "een reported in the newspapers.
The oil!ri crew watched the arrival of unmen and weapons with an oddly dispassionate curiosity. They were men to whom the
unusual was familiar% the odd, the inconruous, the ine&plica"le, part and parcel of their daily lives. Oil!ri crews are a race apart,
and Lord WorthAs men formed a very special su"division of that race.
Lord Worth called them all toether, told of the threat to the 0eawitch and the defensive measures he was underta$in, measures
which were thorouhly approved of "y the crew, who had as much reard for their own s$ins as had the rest of man$ind. Lord Worth
finished "y sayin that he $new he had no need to swear them to secrecy.
In this the no"le Lord was perfectly correct. Thouh they were all e&perienced, hardly a man a"oard had not at one time or another
had a close and painful ac)uaintanceship with the law. There were e&!convicts amon them. There were escaped convicts amon
them. There were those whom the law was very an&ious to interview. And there were parolees who had "ro$en their parole. There
could "e no safer hideouts for those men than the 0eawitch and Lord WorthAs privately owned motel where they put up durin then=
off!duty spells. /o law officer in his sane mind was oin to )uestion the towerin respecta"ility and interity of one of the most
powerful oil "arons in the world, and "y inevita"le implication this attitude of mind e&tended to those in his employ.
In other words, Lord Worth, throuh the invalua"le intermediacy of 5ommander Larsen, pic$ed his men with e&treme care.
Accommodation for the newly arrived men and storae for the weaponry presented no pro"lem. Li$e many (ac$!ups, drill ships
and su"!mersi"les, the 0eawitch had two complete sets of accommodation and messes+one for Westerners, the other for Orientals.
there were at that time no Orientals a"oard.
Lord Worth, 5ommander Larsen and 6alermo held their own private council of war in the lu&uriously e)uipped sittin room
which Lord Worth $ept permanently reserved for himself. They areed on everythin. They areed that 5ron$iteAs campain aainst
them would "e distinuished "y a noticea"le lac$ of su"tlety. outriht violence was the only course open to him. Once the oil was
off!loaded ashore, there was nothin 5ron$ite could do a"out it. 'e would not attempt to attac$ and sin$ a loaded tan$er, (ust as he
would not attempt to destroy their hue floatin storae tan$. 9ither method would cause a massive oil slic$, compara"le to or
pro"a"ly e&ceedin the reat oil slic$ caused "y the Torrey 5anyon disaster off the southwest coast of 9nland some years
previously. The ensuin international uproar would "e "ound to uncover somethin, and if 5ron$ite were implicated he would
undou"tedly implicate the ma(or oil companies+who wouldnAt li$e that at all. And that there would "e a massive investiation was
inevita"le. ecoloy and pollution were still the watchwords of the day.
5ron$ite could attac$ the fle&i"le oil pipe that connected the ri with the tan$, "ut the three men areed that this could "e ta$en
care of. After 5onde and the Roamer arrived and its caro had "een hoisted a"oard, the Roamer would maintain a constant day!and!
niht patrol "etween the ri and the tan$. The 0eawitch was well!e)uipped with sensory devices, apart from those which controlled
the tensionin anchor ca"les. A radar scanner was in constant operation atop the derric$, and sonar devices were attached to each of
the three iant les some twenty feet under water. The radar could detect any hostile approach from air or sea, and the dual!purpose
antiaircraft uns, a"oard and installed, could ta$e care of those. In the hihly unli$ely event of an underwater attac$, sonar would
locate the source, and a suita"ly placed depth chare from the Roamer would attend to that.
Lord Worth, of course, was unaware that at that very moment another craft was movin out at hih speed to (oin 5ron$ite on the
Ti"uron. It was a standard and well!esta"lished desin irreverently $nown as the ,push!pull,- in which water was ducted in throuh
a tu"e forward under the hull and forced out under pressure at the rear. It had no propeller and had "een desined primarily for wor$
close inshore or in swamps, where there was always the daner of the propeller "ein fouled. The only difference "etween this
vessel+the 0tarliht+and others was that it was e)uipped with a "an$ of storae "atteries and could "e electrically powered. 0onar
could detect and accurately pinpoint a shipAs enines and propeller vi"rations% it was virtually helpless aainst an electric push!pull.
Lord Worth and the others considered the possi"ility of a direct attac$ on the 0eawitch. :ecause of her hih deree of
compartmentali#a!tion and her reat positive "uoyancy, nothin short of an atom "om" was capa"le of disposin of somethin as
lare as a foot"all field. 5ertainly no conventional weapon could. The attac$, when it came, would "e locali#ed. The drillin derric$
was an o"vious taret, "ut how 5ron$ite could approach it unseen could not "e imained. :ut Lord Worth was certain of one thin.
when the attac$ came it would "e leveled aainst the 0eawitch,
The ne&t half hour was to prove, twice, (ust how wron Lord Worth could "e.
The first intimations of disaster came as Lord Worth was watchin the fully laden Tor"ello (ust disappearin over the northern
hori#on% the 5rusader, he $new, was due alonside the tan$ late that afternoon. Larsen, his face one hue scowl of fury, silently
handed Lord Worth a sinal (ust received in the radio office. Lord Worth read it, and his su"se)uent lanuae would have dis"arred
him forever from a seat in the 'ouse of Lords. The messae told, in cruelly unsparin fashion, of the spectacular end of the 5rusader
hi ?alveston. !-A
:oth men hurried to the radio room. Larsen contacted the Dupiter, their third tan$er then off!loadin at an o"scure Louisiana port,
told its captain the unhappy fate of the 5rusader and warned him to have every man on "oard on constant loo$out until they had
cleared har"or. Lord Worth personally called the chief of police in ?alveston, identified himself and demanded more details of the
sin$in of the 5rusader. These he duly received, and none of them made him any happier. On inspiration, he as$ed if there had "een
a man called Dohn 5ron$ite or a vessel "elonin to a man of that name in the vicinity at the time. 'e was told to han on while a
chec$ was made with 5ustoms. Two minutes later he was told yes, there had "een a Dohn 5ron$ite a"oard a vessel called the
Ti"uron, which had "een moored directly aft of the 5rusader. It was not $nown whether 5ron$ite was the owner or not. The Ti"uron
had sailed half an hour "efore the 5rusader "lew up.
Lord Worth peremptorily demanded that the Ti"uron "e apprehended and returned to port and that 5ron$ite "e arrested. The police
chief pointed out that international law prohi"ited the arrest of vessels on the hih seas e&cept in time of war and, as for 5ron$ite,
there wasnAt a shred of evidence to connect him with the sin$in of the 5rusader. Lord Worth then as$ed if he would trace the owner
of the Ti"uron. This the police chief promised to do, "ut warned that there miht "e a considera"le delay. There were many reisters
to "e consulted.
At that moment the 5u"an su"marine steamin on the surface at full speed was in the vicinity of Hey West and headin directly
for the 0ea!witch. At almost the same time a missile!armed Russian destroyer slipped its moorins in 'avana and set off in apparent
pursuit of the 5u"an su"marine. And very shortly after that, a destroyer departed its home "ase in ;ene#uela.
The Roamer, Lord WorthAs survey vessel under the command of 5onde, was now halfway to its destination.
The 0tarliht, under the command of 9aston, was (ust movin away from the Ti"uron, which was lyin stopped in the water. Men
on slins had already painted out the shipAs name, and with the aid of card"oard stencils were paintin in a new name+?eoria.
5ron$ite had no wish that any vessel with whom they miht ma$e contact could radio for confirmation of the e&istence of a cutter
called Ti"uron. *rom aft there came the unmista$a"le rac$et of a helicopter enine startin up, then the machine too$ off, circled and
headed southeast, not on its usual pattern!"om"in circuit "ut to locate and radio "ac$ to the Ti"uron the location and course of the
Tor"ello, if and when it found it. Within minutes the Ti"uron was on its way aain, headin in appro&imately the same direction as
the helicopter.
Chapter 4
Worth, en(oyin a very early mornin cup of tea, was in his livin room with Larsen and 6alermo when the radio operator
$noc$ed and entered, a messae sheet in his hand. 'e handed it to Lord Worth and said. ,*or you, sir. :ut itAs hi some sort of code.
8o you have a code "oo$@-
,/o need.- Lord Worth smiled with some self!satisfaction, his first smile of any $ind for )uite some tune. ,I invented this code
myself.- 'e tapped his head. ,'ereAs my code "oo$.-
The operator left. The other two watched in mild anticipation as Lord Worth "ean to decode. The anticipation turned into
apprehension as the smile disappeared from Lord WorthAs face, and the apprehension ave way hi turn to deep concern as reddish!
purple spots the si#e of pennies touched either chee$"one. 'e laid down the messae sheet, too$ a deep "reath, then proceeded to
ive a repeat performance+thouh this time more deeply felt, more impassioned+ of the unparliamentary lanuae he had used at
the news of the loss of the 5rusader. After some time he desisted, less "ecause he had nothin fresh to say than from sheer loss of
Larsen had more wit than to as$ Lord Worth ft somethin were the matter. Instead he said in a )uiet voice. ,0uppose you tell us,
Lord Worth@-
Lord Worth, with no little effort, composed himself and said. ,It seems that 5or+- 'e "ro$e off and corrected himself. it was one
of his many a&ioms that the riht hand shouldnAt $now what the left hand doeth. ,I was informed+all too relia"ly, as it now appears
+ that a couple of countries hostile to us miht well "e prepared to use naval force aainst us. One, it appears, is already prepared to
do so. A destroyer has (ust cleared its ;ene#uelan home port and is headin in what is appro&imately our direction.-
,They wouldnAt dare,A= 6alermo said.
,When people are power! and money!mad theyAll stop at nothin.- It apparently never occurred to Lord Worth that his description
of people applied, in e&celsis, to himself.
,WhoAs the other power@- said Larsen.
,The 0oviet <nion.-
,Is it now@- Larsen seemed )uite unmoved. ,I donAt $now if I li$e the sound of that.-
,We could do without them.- Lord Worth was "ac$ on "alance aain. 'e flipped out a note"oo$ and consulted it. ,I thin$ Til have
a tal$ with Washinton.- 'is hand was (ust reachin out for the phone when it ran. 'e lifted the instrument, at the same time
turnin the switch that cut the incomin call into the "ul$head spea$er.
A vauely disem"odied voice came throuh the spea$er. ,You $now who I am@- 8isem"odied or not, the voice was $nown to
Worth. 5orral.
Tve chec$ed my contact, sir. Tm afraid our uesses were only too accurate. :oth I and Y are willin to commit themselves to
naval support.-
,I $now. One of them has (ust moved out and appears to "e headin in our eneral direction.-
,Which one@-
,The one to the south. Any tal$ of air commitment@-
,/one that IAve heard, sir. :ut I donAt have to tell you that that doesnAt rule out its use.-
,Let me $now if there is any more ood news.-
,/aturally. ?ood"ye, sir.-
Lord Worth replaced the instrument, then lifted it aain.
,I want a num"er in Washinton.-
,5an you hold a moment, sir@-
,ThereAs another code messae comin throuh. Loo$s li$e the same code as the last one, sir.-
,I shouldnAt "e surprised.- Lord WorthAs tone was som"er. ,:rin it across as soon as possi"le.-
'e replaced the phone, pressed a "utton on the small console "efore him, liftin the phone aain as he did.
,5ham"ers@- 5ham"ers was his senior pilot
,Your chopper refueled@-
,Ready to o when you are, sir.-
,May "e any second now. 0tand "y your phone.- 'e replaced the receiver.
Larsen said. ,Washinton "ec$ons, sir@-
,I have the odd feelin that itAs a"out to. There are thins that one can achieve in person that one canAt over the phone. 8epends
upon this ne&t messae.-
,If you o, anythin to "e done in your a"sence@-
,ThereAll "e dual!purpose antiaircraft uns arrivin a"oard the Roamer this afternoon. 0ecure them to the platform.-
,To the north, south, east "ut not west@-
,As you wish.-
,We donAt want to start "lowin holes in our own oil tan$.-
,ThereAs that. ThereAll !eAso "e mines. Three piles, each halfway "etween a pair of les.-
,An underwater e&plosion from a mine wouldnAt damae the les@-
,I shouldnAt thin$ so. WeAll (ust have to find out, wonAt we@ Heep in constant half!hourly touch with "oth the Tor"etto and the
Dupiter. Heep the radar and sonar stations constantly manned. 9ternal viilance, if you will. 'ell, 5ommander, I donAt have to tell
you what to do.- 'e wrote some fiures on a piece of paper. ,If I do have to o, contact this num"er in Washinton. Tell them that
Tm comin. *ive hours or so.-
,This is the 0tate 8epartment@-
,Yes. Tell them that at least the <nder 0ecretary must "e there. Remind him, tactfully, of future campain contri"utions. Then
contact my aircraft pilot, 8awson. Tell him to "e standin "y with a filed fliht plan for Washinton.-
The radio operator $noc$ed, entered, handed Lord Worth a messae sheet and left. Lord Worth, hands steady and face now
untrou"led, decoded the messae, reached for the phone and told 5ham"ers to et to the helicopter at once.
'e said to the two men. ,A Russian!"uilt 5u"an su"marine is on its way from 'avana. ItAs "ein followed "y a Russian uided!
missile destroyer. :oth are headin this way.-
,A visit to the 0tate 8epartment or the 6entaon would appear to "e indicated,- Larsen said. ,There isnAt too much we can do
a"out uided missiles. Loo$s li$e there miht "e )uite some activity herea"outs. That ma$es five vessels arrowin in on us+three
naval vessels, the Dupiter and the Roomer.- Larsen miht have "een even more concerned had he $nown that the num"er of vessels
was seven, not five. "ut, then, Larsen was not to $now that the Ti"uron and the 0tarliht were headin that way also.
Lord Worth rose. ,Well, $eep an eye on the shop. :ac$ this evenin sometime. IAll "e in fre)uent radio contact.-
Lord Worth was to fly four les that day. "y helicopter to the mainland, "y his private :oein to Washinton, the return fliht to
*lorida, and the final le "y helicopter out to the 0eawitch. On each of those four les somethin very unpleasant was oin to
happen+unpleasant for Lord Worth, that is. *ortunately for Lord Worth, he was not "lessed with the alleed 0cottish second siht+
the a"ility to loo$ into the future.
The first of those unpleasantnesses happened when Lord Worth was en route to the mainland. A lare station waon swept up to
the front door of Lord WorthAs mansion, carryin five rather lare men who would have "een difficult later to identify, for a< five
wore stoc$in mas$s. One of them carried what appeared to "e a lare coil of clothesline rope, another a roll of adhesive tape. All
carried uns.
Mac6herson, the elderly head ardener, was ta$in his customary prewor$ dawn patrol to see what damae the fauna had wrea$ed
on his flora durin the niht, when the men emered from the station waon. 9ven allowin for the fact that shoc$ had temporarily
paraly#ed his vocal cords, he never had a chance. In (ust over a minute, "ound hand and foot and with his lips sealed with adhesive
tape, he had "een dumped unceremoniously into a clump of "ushes.
The leader of the roup, a man "y the name of 8urand, pressed the front!door "ell. 8urand, a man who had a powerful affinity
with "an$s and who was a three!time e&!convict, was "y definition a man of du"ious reputation, a reputation confirmed "y the fact
that he was a close and lontime term associate of 5ron$ite. 'alf a minute passed, then he ran aain. :y and "y the door opened to
reveal a ro"e!wrapped Den!$ins, tousle!haired and "lin$in the sleep from his eyes+it was still very early in the mornin. 'is eyes
stopped "lin$in and opened wide when he saw the pistol in 8urandAs hand.
8urand touched the cylinder screwed onto the mu##le of Ms un. As hoo$ed a T; addict as the ne&t man, Den$ins reconi#ed a
silencer when he saw one.
,You $now what this is@-
A fully awa$e Den$ins nodded silently.
,We donAt want to harm anyone in the house. 9specially, no harm will come to you if you do what you are told. 8oin what you
are told includes not tellin lies. <nderstood@-
Den$ins understood.
,'ow many staff do you have here@-
There was a noticea"le )uaver in Den$insAs voice. ,Well, thereAs me+IAm the "utler+-
8urand was patient. ,You we can see.-
,Two footmen, a chauffeur, a radio operator, a secretary, a coo$ and two housemaids. ThereAs a cleanin lady, "ut she doesnAt come
until eiht.-
,Tape him,- 8urand said. Den$insAs lips were taped. ,0orry a"out that, "ut people can "e silly at times. Ta$e us to those eiht
Den$ins reluctantly led the way. Ten minutes later, all eiht of the staff were securely "ound and silenced. 8urand said. ,And now,
the two youn ladies.-
Den$ins led them to a door. 8urand pic$ed out three of his men and said softly. ,The "utler will ta$e you to the other irl. 5hec$
what she pac$s and especially her purse.-
8urand, followed "y his men, entered the room, his un in its concealed holster so as not to arouse too much alarm. That the "ed
was occupied was "eyond dou"t, althouh all that could "e seen was a mop of "lac$ hair on the pillow. 8urand said in a
conversational voice. ,I thin$ you "etter et up, maAam.- 8urand was not normally iven to entleness, "ut he did not want a case of
screamin hysterics on his hands.
A case of hysterics he did not have. Marina turned round in "ed and loo$ed at him with drowsy eyes. The drowsiness did not last
lon. The eyes opened wide, either in fear or shoc$, then returned to normal. 0he reached for a ro"e, arraned it strateically on the
"ed cover, then sat "olt upriht, wrappin the ro"e round her.
,Who are you and what do you want@- 'er voice was not )uite as steady as she miht have wished.
,Well, would you loo$ at that, now@- 8urand said admirinly. ,YouAd thin$ she was used to "ein $idnaped every mornin of her
,This is a $idnap@-
ATin afraid so.- 8urand sounded enuinely apoloetic.
,Where are you ta$in me@-
,;acation. Little island hi the sun.- 8urand smiled. ,You wonAt "e needin any swimsuit thouh. 6lease et up and et dressed.-
,And if I refuse@-
,WeAll dress you.-
,IAm not oin to et dressed with you two watchin me.-
8urand was soothin. ,My friend will stand out in the corridor. IAll o into the "athroom there and leave the door open (ust a crac$
+not to watch you, "ut to watch the window, to ma$e sure that you donAt leave "y it. 5all me when youAre ready and "e )uic$ a"out
0he was )uic$ a"out it. 0he called him within three minutes. :lue "louse, "lue slac$s and her hair com"ed. 8urand nodded his
,6ac$ a travelin "a. 9nouh for a few days.-
'e watched her while she pac$ed. 0he #ipped the "a shut and pic$ed up her purse. ,IAm ready.-
'e too$ the purse from her, undid the clasp and upended the contents on the "ed. *rom the (um"le on the "ed he selected a small
pearl!handled pistol, which he slipped into his poc$et
,LetAs pac$ the purse aain, shall we@-
Marina did so, her face flushed with mortification.
A somewhat similar scene had (ust ta$en place in MelindaAs "edroom.
Twenty!five minutes had elapsed since the arrival of 8urand and his men and their departure with the two irls. /o one had "een
hurt, e&cept in pride, and the intruders had even "een considerate to the e&tent of seatin Den$ins in a deep armchair in the front hall.
Den$ins, as he was now securely "ound hand and foot, did not appreciate this courtesy as much as he miht have done.
A"out ten minutes after their departure, Lord WorthAs helicopter touched down "eside his :oein in the city airport. There were no
customs, no clearance formalities. Lord Worth had made it plain some years previously that he did not much care for that sort of
thin, and when Lord Worth made thins plain they tended to remain that way.
It was durin the second le of this fliht that the second unfortunate occurrence happened. Aain, Lord Worth was happily
unaware of what was ta$in place.
The Ti"uronAs Rnow the ?eoriaAsS helicopter had located the Tor"ello. The pilot reported that he had sihted the vessel two
minutes previously and ave her latitude and lonitude as accurately as he could (ude. More importantly, he ave her course as
appro&imately E>2 derees, which was virtually on a collision course with the ?eoria. They were appro&imately forty!five miles
apart. 5ron$ite ave his conratulations to the pilot and as$ed him to return to the ?eoria.
On the "ride of the ?eoria 5ron$ite and Mulhooney loo$ed at each other with satisfaction. :etween plannin and e&ecution
there often e&ists an un"ridea"le ap. In this case, however, thins appeared to "e oin e&actly accordin to plan.
5ron$ite said to Mulhooney. ,Time, I thin$, to chane into more respecta"le clothes. And donAt foret to powder your nose.-
Mulhooney smiled and left the "ride. 5ron$ite paused only to ive a few instructions to the helmsman, then left the "ride also.
Less than an hour later the Tor"ello stood clear over the hori#on. The ?eoria headed straiht for it, then at a"out three miles
distance made a thirty!deree alteration to star"oard, (uded the timin to a nicety and came round in a wide sweepin turn to port.
Two minutes later the ?eoria was on a parallel course to the Tor"ello, alonside its port )uarter+the "ride of a tan$er lies very far
aft+parallelin its course at the same speed and not more than thirty yards away. 5ron$ite moved out onto the win of the ?eoriaAs
"ride and lifted his loud!hailer.
,5oast ?uard. 6lease stop. This is a re)uest, not an order. We thin$ your vesselAs in reat daner. Your permission, please, to "rin
a trained research party a"oard. *or the safety of your men and the ship, donAt "rea$ radio silence on any accountF-
5aptain Thompson, an honest sailor with no criminal propensities whatsoever, used his own loud!hailer.
,WhatAs wron@ Why is this "oardin necessary@-
,ItAs not a "oardin. I am ma$in a re)uest for your own ood. :elieve me, IAd rather not "e within five miles of you. It is
necessary. IAd rather come a"oard with my lieutenant and e&plain privately. 8onAt foret what happened to your sister ship, the
5rusader, in ?alveston har"or last niht.-
5aptain Thompson, clearly, had not forotten and was, of course, completely unaware that 5ron$ite was the man responsi"le for
what had happened to his sister ship. a rinin of "ells from the "ride was indication enouh of that. Three minutes later the
Tor"ello lay stopped in the calm waters. The ?eoria eded up alonside the Tor"ello until its midships were (ust ahead of the "ul$
of the tan$erAs superstructure. At this point it was possi"le to step from the ?eoriaAs dec$ straiht onto the dec$ of the deep!laden
tan$er, which was what 5ron$ite and Mulhooney proceeded to do. They paused there until they had made sure that the ?eoria was
securely moored fore and aft to the tan$er, then clim"ed a series of companionways and ladders up to the "ride.
:oth men were )uite unreconi#a"le. 5ron$ite had ac)uired a splendidly "ushy "lac$ "eard, a neatly trimmed mustache and dar$
lasses and, with his smartly tailored uniform and slihtly ra$ish pea$ed cap, loo$ed the epitome of the competent and dashin
coast!uard!cutter captain which he was not. Mulhooney was similarly disuised.
There was only 5aptain Thompson and an idle helmsman on the "ride. 5ron$ite shoo$ the captainAs hand.
,?ood mornin. 0orry to distur" you when you are proceedin a"out your lawful "usiness and all that, "ut you may "e lad we
stopped you. *irst, where is your radio room@- 5aptain Thompson nodded to a door set in "ac$ of the "ride. ,*d li$e my lieutenant
to chec$ on the radio silence. This is imperative.- Aain, 5aptain Thompson, now feelin distinctly uneasy, nodded. 5ron$ite loo$ed
at Mulhooney. ,?o chec$, 8i&on, will you@-
Mulhooney passed throuh into the radio room, closin the door "ehind him. The radio operator loo$ed up from his transceiver
with an air of mild surprise.
,0orry to distur".- Mulhooney sounded almost enial, a remar$a"le feat for a man totally devoid of eniality. ,IAm from the 5oast
?uard cutter alonside. The captain told you to $eep radio silence@-
,ThatAs (ust what IAm doin.-
,Made any radio calls since leavin the 0ea!witch@-
,Only the routine half!hourly on!course, on!time calls.A=
,8o they ac$nowlede those@ I have my reasons for as$in.- Mulhooney carefully refrained from sayin what his reasons were.
,/o. Well, (ust the usual Aroer and outA "usiness.-
,WhatAs the call!up fre)uency@-
The operator pointed to the console. ,6reset.-
Mulhooney nodded and wal$ed casually "ehind the operator. Dust to ma$e sure that the operator $ept on maintainin radio silence,
Mulhooney clipped him over the riht ear with his pistol. 'e then returned to the "ride, where he found 5aptain Thompson in a
state of considera"le and understanda"le pertur"ation.
5aptain Thompson, a deep an&iety compounded "y a self!defensive dis"elief, said. ,What youAre tellin me in effect is that the
Tor"ello is a floatin time "om".-
,A "om", certainly. May"e lots of "om"s. /ot only possi"le "ut almost certain. Our sources of information+sorry, *m not at
li"erty to divule those+are as nearly perfect as can "e.-
,?odAs sa$e, man, no one would "e so cra#y as to cause a hue oil slic$ in the ?ulf.-
5ron$ite said. ,ItAs your assumption, not mine, that weAre dealin with sane minds. Who "ut a cra#y man would have endanered
?alveston "y "lowin up your sister tan$er there@-
The captain fell silent and pondered the )uestion loomily.
5ron$ite went on. ,Anyway, itAs my intention+with your consent, of course+to search the enine room, livin accommodations
and every storae space on the ship. With the $ind of search crew I have it shouldnAt ta$e more than half an hour.-
,What $ind of preset time "om" do you thin$ it miht "e@-
,I donAt thin$ itAs a time "om"+or "om"s+ at all. I thin$ that the detonator+or detonators +will "e a certain radioactivated
device that can "e triered "y any near"y craft, plane or helicopter. :ut I donAt thin$ itAs fi&in to happen till youAre close to the <.0.
,0o weAll have ma&imum pollution alon the shores. ThereAll "e a national holler aainst Lord Worth and the safety standards
a"oard Ms+ ah+rather superannuated tan$ers, may"e resultin in closin down the 0eawitch or the sei#in of any of WorthAs
tan$ers that miht enter American territorial waters.- In addition to his many other speciali#ed )ualifications, 5ron$ite was a
consummate liar. ,O$ay if I call my men@- 5aptain Thompson nodded without any noticea"le enthusiasm.
5ron$ite lifted the loud!hailer and ordered the search party a"oard. They came immediately, fourteen of them, all of them wearin
stoc$in mas$s, all of them carryin machine pistols. 5aptain Thompson stared at them in stupefaction, then turned and stared some
more at 5ron$ite and Mulhooney, "oth of whom had pistols leveled at him. 5ron$ite may have "een loo$in satisfied or even
triumphant, "ut such was the a"undance of his ersat# facial foliae that it was impossi"le to tell.
5aptain Thompson, in a stupefaction that was slowly turnin into a slow "urn, said. ,What the hell oes@-
,You can see what oes. 'i(ac$. A very popular pastime nowadays. I aree that no"odyAs ever hi(ac$ed a tan$er "efore, "ut there
always has to "e a first time. :esides, itAs not really somethin new. 6iracy on the hih seas. TheyAve "een at it for thousands of
years. 8onAt try anythin rash, 5aptain, and please donAt try to "e a hero. If you all "ehave, no harm will come to you. Anyway, what
could you possi"ly do with fourteen su"machine uns lined up aainst you@-
Within five minutes all the crew, officers and men, includin the recovered radio operator "ut with one other e&ception, were
herded into the crewAs mess under armed uard. /o"ody had even as much as contemplated offerin resistance. The e&ception was
an unhappy!loo$in duty enineer in the enine room. There are few people who donAt loo$ slihtly unhappy when starin at the
mu##le of a 0chmeisser from a distance of five feet.
5ron$ite was on the "ride ivin Mulhooney his final instructions.
,Heep on sendin the 0eawitch its half!hour on!time, on!course reports. Then report a minor "rea$down in two or three hours+a
fractured fuel line or somethin of the sort+enouh that would $eep the Tor"ello immo"ili#ed for a few
hours. YouAre due in ?alveston toniht and I need time and room to maneuver. Rather, you need time and room to maneuver.
When it ets dar$ $eep every naviational liht e&tinuished +in fact, every liht e&tinuished. LetAs donAt underestimate Lord
Worth.- 5ron$ite was spea$in with an unaccustomed deree of "itterness, dou"tless recallin the day Lord Worth had ta$en him to
the cleaners in court. ,'eAs a very powerful man, and itAs )uite in the cards that he can have an air!and!sea search mounted for his
missin tan$er.-
5ron$ite re(oined the ?eoria, cast off and pulled away. Mulhooney, too, ot under way, "ut altered course ninety derees to port
so that he was headin southwest instead of northwest. On the first half hour he sent the reassurin report to the 0eawitch+-on
course, on time.-
5ron$ite waited for the 0tarliht to (oin him, then "oth vessels proceeded toether in a enerally southeasterly direction until they
were a"out thirty!five nautical miles from the 0eawitch, safely over the hori#on and out of reach of the 0eawitchAs radar and sonar.
They stopped their enines and settled down to wait.
The "i :oein had almost halved the distance "etween *lorida and Washinton. Lord Worth, in his lu&urious stateroom
immediately a"aft the fliht dec$, was ma$in up for time lost durin the previous niht and, "lissfully unaware of the slins and
arrows that were comin at him from all sides, was soundly asleep.
Mitchell had "een unusually "ut perhaps not une&pectedly late in wa$in that mornin. 'e showered, shaved and dressed while
the coffee percolated, all the time conscious of a peculiar and unaccustomed sense of unease. 'e paced up and down the $itchen,
drin$in his coffee, then a"ruptly decided to put his unease at rest. 'e lifted the phone and dialed Lord WorthAs mansion. The other
end ran, ran aain and $ept on rinin. Mitchell replaced the receiver, then tried aain with the same result. 'e finished his coffee,
went across to RoomerAs house and let himself in with his pass$ey. 'e went into the "edroom to find Roomer still asleep. 'e wo$e
him up. Roomer rearded him with disfavor.
,What do you mean "y wa$in up a man in the middle of the niht@-
,ItAs not the middle of the niht.- 'e pulled open the drapes and the "riht summer sunliht flooded the room. ,ItAs "road
dayliht, as you will "e a"le to see when you open your eyes.- A
,Your house on fire or somethin, then@-
,I wish it were somethin as trivial as that. *m worried, Dohn. I wo$e up feelin "ued "y somethin, and the feelin ot worse
and worse. *ive minutes ao I called up Lord WorthAs house. I tried twice. There was no reply. Must have "een at least eiht or ten
people in that house, "ut there was no reply.-
,What do you thin$+-
,YouAre supposed to "e the man with the intuition. ?et ready. Til o ma$e some coffee.-
Lon "efore the coffee was ready, in fact less than ninety seconds later, Roomer was in the $itchen. 'e had of course neither
showered nor shaved "ut had had time to run a com" throuh his hair. 'e was loo$in the same way the e&pressionless Mitchell was
,/ever mind the coffee.- Roomer "ore an almost savae e&pression on his face, "ut Mitchell $new that it wasnAt directed at him.
,LetAs et up to the house7A
They too$ RoomerAs car% it was nearer.
Mitchell said. ,?od, weAre really "rihtF 'it us over the head often enouh and may"e+(ust may"e+weAll "ein to see the
o"vious.- 'e held on to his seat as Roomer, tires screechin, rounded a "lind corner. ,9asy, "oy, easy. Too late to loc$ the sta"le
With what was a clearly conscious effort of will, Roomer slowed down. 'e said. ,Yeah, weAre real clever. Lord Worth used a
threat of the irlsA a"duction as an e&cuse for his actions. And you told him to offer the threat of the a"duction as an e&cuse for our
"ein there last niht. And it never occurred to either of our staerin intellects that their $idnapin would "e "oth loical and
inevita"le. Worth wasnAt e&aeratin+he has enemies, and vicious enemies who are out to et him. Two trump cards+ and what
trumpsF 'eAs powerless now. 'eAll ive away half his money to et them "ac$. Dust half. 'eAll use the other half to hunt those people
down. Money can "uy any co!operation in the world, and the old "oy has all the money in the world.-
Mitchell now seemed rela&ed, comforta"le, even calm. 'e said. ,:ut weAll et to them first, wonAt we, Dohn@-
Roomer stirred uncomforta"ly in his seat as they swun into the mansionAs driveway. 'e said. ATm (ust as sore as you are. :ut I
donAt li$e it when you start tal$in that way. You $now that.-
,IAm e&pressin an intention+or at least a hope.- 'e smiled. ,WeAll see.-
Roomer stopped his car in a fashion that did little ood to Lord WorthAs immaculately ra$ed ravel. The first thin that cauht
MitchellAs eye as he left the car was an odd movement "y the side of the driveway hi a clump of "ushes. 'e too$ out his un and
went to investiate, then put his un away, opened his clasp $nife and sliced throuh Mac6hersonAs "onds. The head ardener, after
forty years in *lorida, had never lost a trace of a very pronounced 0cottish accent, an accent that tended to thic$en accordin to the
deree of mental stress he was underoin.!On this occasion, with the adhesive removed, his lanuae was wholly indeciphera"le+
which, in view of what he was almost certainly tryin to say, was pro"a"ly (ust as well.
They went throuh the front doorway. Den!$ins, apparently ta$in his ease in a comforta"le armchair, reeted them with a "aleful
lare. The lare was in no way intended for them% Den$ins was (ust in a "aleful mood, a mood scarcely "ettered "y MitchellAs swift
and painful yan$in away of the adhesive from his lips. Den$ins too$ a deep "reath, preparatory to. lodin some form of protest, "ut
Mitchell cut in "efore he could spea$.
,Where does Dim sleep@- Dim was the radio operator.
Den$ins stared at him in astonishment. Was this the way to reet a man who had "een throuh a livin hell+snatched, one miht
almost say, from the (aws of death@ Where was the sympathy, the condolence, the an&ious )uestionin@ Mitchell put his hands on his
shoulders and shoo$ him violently.
,Are you deaf@ DimAs room@-
Den$ins loo$ed at the rim face less than a foot from his own and decided aainst remonstratin. ,In "ac$, first floor, first riht.-
Mitchell left. 0o, after a second or two, did Roomer. Den$ins called after him in a plaintive voice. ,You arenAt leavin me too, Mr.
Roomer turned and said patiently. ATm oin to the $itchen to et a nice sharp carver. Mr. Mitchell has ta$en the only $nife we
have "etween us.-
Dim Ro"ertson was youn, fresh!faced and (ust out of collee, a raduate in electrical enineerin in no hurry to proceed with his
profession. 'e sat on the "ed massain his now un"ound wrists, wincin slihtly as the circulation "ean to return. As tiers of
$nots, 8urandAs henchmen had "een nothin if not enthusiastic.
Mitchell said. ,'ow do you feel@A=
,I donAt "lame you. Are you o$ay to operate your set@-
,IAm o$ay for anythin if it means ettin hold of those "astards.-
,ThatAs the eneral idea. 8id you et a ood loo$ at the $idnapers@-
,I can ive you a eneral description.- 'e "ro$e off and stared at Mitchell. ,Hidnapers@-
,Loo$s as thouh Lord WorthAs dauhters have "een a"ducted.-
,'oly 5hristF- The assimilation of this news too$ some little time. ,ThereAll "e all hell to pay for this.-
,It should cause a considera"le flap. 8o you $now where MarinaAs room is@-
ATil show you.-
'er room showed all sins of a hasty and unpremeditated departure. 5up"oard doors were open, drawers the same, and some
spilled clothin lay on the floor, Mitchell was interested in none of this. 'e )uic$ly riffled throuh drawers in the room until he
found what he had hoped to find+her 0tates passport. 'e opened it and it was valid. 'e made a mental note that she had lied a"out
her ae+she was two years older than she claimed to "e+returned the passport and hurried down to the radio room with Ro"ertson,
who unloc$ed the door to let them in. Ro"ertson loo$ed )uestioninly at Mitchell.
,The county police chief. 'is name is Mc?ar!rity. I donAt want anyone else. Tell him youAre spea$in for Lord Worth, That should
wor$ wonders. Then let me ta$e over.-
Roomer entered while Ro"ertson was tryin to ma$e contact. ,0even more of the staff, all suita"ly immo"ili#ed. Ma$es nine in
all. IAve left Den$ins to cut them loose. 'is hands are sha$in so "ad heAll pro"a"ly slice an artery or two, "ut for me freein elderly
coo$s and youn housemaids is a"ove and "eyond the call of duty.-
,They must have "een carryin a mile of rope,- Mitchell said a"sently. 'e was fiurin out how much not to tell the police chief.
Roomer nodded to the operator. ,WhoAs he tryin to contact@-
,That hypocritical old "rown!noserF-
,Most people would reard that as a charita"le description. :ut he has his uses.-
Ro"ertson loo$ed up. ,On the line, Mr. Mitchell. That phone.- 'e made discreetly to replace his own, "ut Roomer too$ it from
him and listened in.
,5hief Mc?arrity@-
,6lease listen very carefully. This is e&tremely important and urent, and the "iest thin thatAs ever come your way. Are you
,Yes. IAm all alone.- Mc?arrityAs tone held an odd mi&ture of suspicion and aroused interest.
,/o"ody listenin in, no recorder@-
,?oddam it, no. ?et to the point.-
,WeAre spea$in from Lord WorthAs house. You $now of him@-
,8onAt "e a damned fool. WhoAs AweA@-
,My name is Michael Mitchell. My partner is Dohn Roomer. WeAre licensed private investiators.-
ATve heard of you. YouAre the uys who ive the local law so much trou"le.-
BIPd put it the other way around, "ut thatAs "eside the point. What is to the point is that Lord WorthAs two dauhters have "een
,Merciful ?od in heavenF- There ensued what could fairly have "een descri"ed as a stunned silence at the other end of the line.
Roomer smiled sardonically and covered the mouthpiece. ,5anAt you see the old phony ra""in his seat, with his eyes poppin
and "i sins sayin A6romotionA flashin in front of him@-
,Hidnapped, you said@- Mc?arrityAs voice had suddenly developed a certain hoarseness.
,Hidnapped. A"ducted. 0natched.-
,0ure of this@-
,0ure as can "e. The irlsA rooms have all the sins of hurried and unplanned departure. /ine of the staff were "ound and aed.
What would you conclude from that@-
,Hidnap.- Mc?arrity made it sound as if heAd made the discovery all "y himself.
,5an you put a "loc$ on all escape routes@ They havenAt ta$en the irlsA passports, so that rules out international flihts. I hardly
thin$ the $idnapers would have ta$en any commercial domestic fliht. 5an you see Lord WorthAs dauhters oin throuh any
airline terminal without "ein reconi#ed@ IAd put a stop order and uard at every private airfield and helicopter pad in the southern
part of the state. And li$ewise at every port, "i and small, in the same area.-
Mc?arrity sounded "emused, "efuddled. ,ThatAd call for hundreds of policemen.-
The tone of anuished protest was unmista$a"le. Mitchell sihed, cupped the mouthpiece, loo$ed at Roomer and said. ,ManAs out
of his depth. 5an I call him lun$head@- 'e removed his hand. ,Loo$, 5hief Mc?arrity, I donAt thin$ you reali#e what youAre sittin
on. WeAre tal$in a"out the dauhters of Lord Worth. You could pic$ up your phone and et a thousand cops for the as$in. You
could call out the /ational ?uard if you wanted to+IAm sure Lord Worth would pic$ up the ta" for every cent of e&penses. ?ood
?od, man, thereAs "een nothin li$e this since the Lind"erh $idnapinF-
,ThatAs so, thatAs so.- It wasnAt difficult to visuali#e Mc?arrity lic$in his lips. ,8escriptions@-
,/ot much help there, IAm afraid. They all wore stoc$in mas$s. The leader wore loves, which may or may not indicate a
criminal record. All were "i, well!"uilt men and all wore dar$ "usiness suits. I donAt have to ive you a description of the irls, I
,Marina and Melinda@- Mc?arrity was a classic sno" of awesome proportions, who followed with avid interest the comins and
oins of alleed society, of the internationally famous and infamous. ,'ell, no. Of course not. TheyAre pro"a"ly the most
photoraphed pair in the state.-
,YouAll $eep this under wraps, tiht as possi"le, for the moment@-
,I will, I will.- Mc?arrity had his "a"y clutched close to his heart, and no"ody, "ut no"ody was oin to ta$e it away from him.
,Lord Worth will have to "e informed first of all. Til refer him to you.-
,You mean you havenAt told him yet@- Mc?arrity could hardly "elieve his ood fortune.
,Tell him to ta$e it easy+well, as easy as he
0can itch
can, that is. Tell him Tm ta$in complete and personal chare of the investiation.-
,IAll do that, 5hief.-
Roomer winced and screwed his eyes shut.
Mc?arrity sounded positively "ris$. ,/ow, a"out the local law.-
,I suppose IAve ot to call them in. IAm not too happy a"out it. they donAt e&actly li$e us. What if they refuse to $eep this under
wraps . . . @-
,In which case,- Mc?arrity said ominously, ,(ust put the person concerned directly on the line to me. Anyone else $now a"out
this yet@-
,Of course not. YouAre the only man with the power to authori#e the closin of the ,escape routes. /aturally we contacted you
,And you were perfectly riht, Mr. Mitchell.- Mc?arrity was warm and appreciative, as well he miht have "een, for he had a
very sha$y re!election comin up and the massive pu"licity the $idnapin was "ound to enerate would uarantee him a virtual
shoo!in. ,*< et the wheels turnin at this end. Heep me posted.-
,Of course, 5hief.- Mitchell hun up. , Roomer loo$ed at him admirinly. ,You are an even "ier and stic$ier hypocrite than
,6ractice. Anyway, we ot what we wanted.A= MitchellAs face was som"er. ,'as it occurred to you that the "irds may have
Roomer loo$ed e)ually unhappy. ,Yeah. :ut first thins first. Lord Worth ne&t@- Mitchell nodded. ATil pass this one up. They say
that, under provocation, he has a rich command of the 9nlish lanuae, not at all aristocratic. Td "e "etter employed interviewin
the staff. Til ply them with stron drin$ to help them overcome the riors of their ordeal and to loosen their tonues+Lord WorthAs
reserve 8om 6erinon for choice+and see what I can et out of them, I donAt e&pect much. A' I can do is as$ them a"out
descriptions and voices and whether or not they touched anythin that miht ive us finerprints. /ot that that will help if their
prints arenAt on file.-
,The "randy "it sounds the "est part of your proram. As$ Den$ins to "rin a lare one-+ he loo$ed at Ro"ertson+-two lare
Roomer was at the door when he turned. ,8o you $now what happened in ancient times to the "earers of "ad news@-
,I $now. They ot their heads cut off.-
,'eAll pro"a"ly "lame us for carelessness and lac$ of foresiht+and heAll "e riht, too, even thouh heAs (ust as uilty as we are.-
Roomer left.
,?et me Lord Worth, Dim.-
,I would if I $new where he was. 'e was here last niht when I left.-
,'eAs on the 0eawitch.-
Ro"ertson raised an eye"row, lowered it, said nothin and turned his attention to the switch"oard. 'e raised the 0eawitch in
fifteen seconds. Mitchell too$ the phone.
,Lord Worth, please.-
,'old on.-
Another voice came on, a raspin ravelly voice, not as friendly.
,WhatdAyou want@-
,Lord Worth, please.-
,'ow do you $now heAs here@-
,'ow do I+what does that matter@ May I spea$ to him@-
,Loo$, mister, Tm here to protect Lord WorthAs privacy. We et far too many odd"all calls from odd"all characters. 'ow did you
$now he was here@-
,:ecause he told me.-
,Last niht. A"out midniht.-
,WhatAs your name@-
,Mitchell. Michael Mitchell.-
,Mitchell.- LarsenAs tone chaned. ,Why didnAt you say so in the first place@-
,:ecause I didnAt e&pect a ?estapo third deree, thatAs why. You must "e 5ommander Lar!sen.-
,ThatAs me.-
,/ot very civil, are you@-
,IAve ot a (o" to do.-
,Lord Worth.-
,'eAs not here.-
,'e wouldnAt lie to me.- Mitchell thouht it impolitic to add that heAd actually seen Lord Worth ta$e off.
,'e didnAt lie to you. 'e was here. 'e left hours ao for Washinton.-
Mitchell was silent for a few moments while he considered. ,Any num"er where he can "e reached@-
,Yes. Why@-
,I didnAt as$ you why heAd one to Washinton. ItAs an urent, private and personal matter. *rom what IAve heard of you from Lord
Worth, and thatAs )uite a "it, youAd react in e&actly the same way. ?ive me the num"er and Til call "ac$ and fill you in (ust as soon as
Lord Worth ives me clearance.-
,Your word on that@-
Mitchell ave his promise and Larsen ave him the num"er.
Mitchell replaced the receiver. 'e said to Ro"ertson. ,Lord Worth has left the 0eawitch and one to Washinton.-
,'e does et around. In his :oein, I presume@-
,I didnAt as$. I too$ that for ranted. 8o you thin$ you can reach him on the plane@-
Ro"ertson didnAt loo$ encourain. ,When did he leave the 0eawitch@-
,I donAt $now. 0hould have as$ed, I suppose. 'ours ao, Larsen said.-
Ro"ertson loo$ed even more discouraed. ,I wouldnAt hold out any hope, Mr. Mitchell. With this set I can reach out a couple of
thousand miles. Lord WorthAs :oein can reach any airport not )uite as far away, (ust as the airport can reach him. :ut the receivin
e)uipment a"oard the :oein hasnAt "een modified to receive lon!rane transmissions from this set, which is very speciali#ed.
0hort!rane only. *ive hundred miles, if that. The :oein is "ound to "e well out of rane "y now.-
,*rea$ weather conditions@-
,Mihty rare, Mr. Mitchell.-
,Try anyway, Dim.-
'e tried and $ept on tryin for five minutes, durin which it "ecame steadily more apparent that Lord Worth would have at least a
"it more time "efore "ein set up for his coronary. At the end of five minutes Ro"ertson shrued his shoulders and loo$ed up at
,Than$s for the try, Dim.- 'e ave Ro"ertson a piece of paper with a num"er on it. ,Washinton. Thin$ you can reach that@-
,That I can uarantee.-
,Try for it in half an hour. As$ for Lord Worth. 9mphasi#e the urency. If you donAt contact him, try aain every twenty minutes.
You have a direct line to the study@-
ATil "e there. I have to welcome the law.-
Alia=air MaeLean
Lord Worth, still happily unaware of his disinteratin world, slept soundly. The :oein, at thirty!three thousand feet, was (ust
"einnin its descent to 8ulles Airport.
Chapter 5
Worth, a lass of scotch in one hand and an illeal 5u"an ciar in the other, was comforta"ly ensconced in a deep armchair in the
very plush office of the Assistant 0ecretary of 0tate, 'e should have "een contented and rela&ed. he was, in fact, hihly discontented
and completely unrela&ed. 'e was "ecomin mad, steadily and far from slowly, at the world in eneral and at the four other people
in that room in particular.
The four consisted of 'owell, the Assistant 0ecretary, a tall, thin, $een!faced man with steel!framed lasses who loo$ed li$e, and
in fact was, a Yale professor. The second was his personal assistant, whose name, fittinly enouh, Lord Worth had failed to catch,
for he had a"out him the ray anonymity of a top!fliht civil servant. The third was Lieutenant!?eneral Tweic$er, and all that could
"e said a"out him was that he loo$ed every inch a eneral. The fourth was a middle!aed stenorapher who appeared to ta$e notes of
the discussion whenever the mood struc$ her, which didnAt appear to "e very often. most li$ely, lon e&perience had tauht her that
most of what was said at any conference wasnAt worth notin anyway.
Lord Worth said. =Tm a very tired man who has (ust flown up from the ?ulf of Me&ico. I have spent twenty!five minutes here and
appear to have wasted my time. Well, entlemen, I have no intention of wastin my time. My time is as important as yours.
5orrection. ItAs a damn siht more important. AThe "i "rush!off,A I "elieve itAs called.-
,'ow can you call it a "rush!off@ YouAre sittin in my office and ?eneral Tweic$er is here. 'ow many other citi#ens rate that $ind
of treatment@-
,The "ier the facade, the "ier the "rush!off. I am not accustomed to dealin with underlins. I am accustomed to dealin with
the very top, which I havenAt )uite reached yet, "ut will. The cool, diplomatic, deep!free#e treatment will not wor$. I am no
trou"lema$er, "ut Til o any lenths to secure (ustice. You canAt sweep me under your diplomatic carpet, Mr. 'owell. I told you
recently that there were international threats aainst the 0eawitch, and you chose either to dis"elieve me or inore me. I come to you
now with additional proof that I am threatened+three naval vessels headin for the 0eawitch+and still you propose to ta$e no
action. And I would point out, incidentally, if you still donAt $now independently of the movements of those vessels, then itAs time
you ot yourselves a new intellience service.-
?eneral Tweic$er said. ,We are aware of those movements. :ut as yet we see no (ustification for ta$in any $ind of action. You
have no proof that what you claim is true. 0uspicions, no more. 8o you seriously e&pect us to alert naval units and a s)uadron of
fihter!"om"ers on the unproven and what may well "e the unfounded suspicions of a private citi#en@-
,ThatAs it in a nutshell,- 'owell said. ,And I would remind you, Lord Worth, that youAre not even an American citi#en.-
, A/ot even an American citi#en.A , 'e turned to the stenorapher. ,I trust you made a note of that.- 'e lifted his hand as 'owell
made to spea$. ,Too late, 'owell. Too late to retrieve your "lunder+a "lunder, I may say, of classical proportions. /ot an American
citi#en@ I would point out that I paid more ta&es last year than all your precious oil companies in the 0tates com"ined+this apart
from supplyin the cheapest oil to the <nited 0tates. If the level of competence of the 0tate 8epartment is typical of the way this
country is run, then I can only re(oice in the fact that I still retain a :ritish passport. One law for Americans, another for the heathen
"eyond the pale. 9ven!handed (ustice. A/ot an American citi#en.A This should ma$e a particularly (uicy tid"it for the news conference
I- intend to hold immediately after I leave.-
,A news conference@- 'owe<! "etrayed unmista$a"le sins of aitation,
,5ertainly.- Lord WorthAs tone was as rim as his face. ,If you people wonAt protect me, then, "y ?od, Til protect myself.-
'owell loo$ed at the eneral, then "ac$ to Lord Worth. 'e strove to in(ect an official and intimidatin note into his voice. ,I
would remind you that any discussions that ta$e place here are strictly confidential.-
Lord Worth eyed him coldly. ,ItAs always sad to see a man who has missed his true vocation. You should have "een a comedian,
'owell, not a senior mem"er of overnment. 5onfidential. ThatAs ood. 'ow can you remind me of somethin you never even
mentioned "efore@ 5onfidential. If there wasnAt a lady present *d tell you what I really thin$ of your asinine remar$. ?od, itAs rich, a
statement li$e that comin from the num"er two in a overnment department with so splendid a record of lea$in state secrets to
muc$ra$in (ournalists, dou"less in return for a suita"le )uid pro )uo. I cannot a"ide hypocrisy. And this ma$es another (uicy tid"it
for the press conference+the 0tate 8epartment tried to a me. 5lassical "lunder num"er two, 'owell.-
'owell said nothin. 'e loo$ed as if he were considerin the advisa"ility of wrinin his hands.
,I shall inform the press conference of the indecision, reluctance, inaction, incompetence and plain runnin!scared vacillation of a
0tate 8epartment which will "e responsi"le for the loss of a hundred!million!dollar oil ri, the stoppin of cheap supplies of fuel to
the American people, the "iest oil slic$ in history, and the possi"le+no, I would say pro"a"le+"einnins of a third ma(or war.
In addition to holdin this news conference, I shall "uy T; and radio time, e&plain the whole situation, and further e&plain that I am
forced to o to those e&traordinary lenths "ecause of the refusal and ina"ility of the 0tate 8epartment to protect me.- 'e paused.
,That was rather silly of me. I have my own T; and radio stations. ItAs oin to "e such a "urnin!hot topic that the "i three
companies will (ump at it and it wonAt cost me a cent. :y toniht IAll have the name of the 0tate 8epartment, particularly the names
of you and your "oss, if not e&actly "lac$ened, at least tarnished across the country. IAm a desperate man, entlemen, and IAm
prepared to adopt desperate methods.-
'e paused for their reactions. *acially they were all he could have wished. 'owell, his assistant and the eneral all too clearly
reali#ed that Lord Worth meant every word he said. The implications were too horrendous to contemplate, :ut no one said anythin,
so Lord Worth too$ up the conversational "urden aain.
,*inally, entlemen, you "ase your pusillanimous refusal to act on the fact that I have no proof of evil intent. I do, in fact, possess
such proof, and itAs cast iron. I will not lay this proof "efore you "ecause it is apparent that I will achieve nothin here. I re)uire a
decision!ma$er, and the 0ecretary has the reputation for "ein (ust that. I suest you et him here.-
,?et the 0ecretary@- 'owelTs ears were clearly appalled "y this suested lJse ma(este. ,One doesnAt AetA the 0ecretary. 6eople
ma$e appointments days, even wee$s, in advance. :esides, he is in a very important conference.-
Lord Worth remained unmoved. ,?et him. This conference heAd "etter have with me will "e the most important of his life. If he
elects not to come, then heAs pro"a"ly holdin the last conference of his political career. I $now heAs not twenty yards from here. ?et
him.- ,I+I donAt really thin$+- Lord Worth rose. ,I hope your immediate successors+and the operative word is AimmediateA+
win, for the countryAs sa$e, display more common sense and intestinal fortitude than you have. Tell the man who, throuh your ross
nelience and cowardly refusal to face facts, will "e held primarily responsi"le for the out"rea$ of the ne&t war, to watch T;
toniht. You have had your chance+as your stenorapherAs note"oo$ will show+and youAve thrown it away.- Lord Worth shoo$ his
head, almost in sadness. ,There are none so "lind as those who will not see+ especially a splutterin fuse leadin to a $e of
dynamite. I "id you ood day, entlemen.-
,/oF /oF- 'owell was in a state of very considera"le aitation. ,0it downF 0it downF IAll see what I can do.-
'e practically ran from the room.
8urin his rather protracted a"sence+he was one for e&actly thirteen minutes+conversation in the room was minimal.
Tweic$er said. ,You really mean what you say, donAt you@-
,8o you dou"t me, ?eneral@-
,/ot any more. You really intend to carry out those threats@-
,I thin$ the word you want is Apromises7 ,
After this effective conversation!stopper an uncomforta"le silence fell on the room. Only Lord Worth appeared hi no way
discomforted. 'e was, or appeared to "e, calm and rela&ed, which was )uite a feat, "ecause he $new that the appearance or
nonappearance of the 0ecretary meant whether he had won or lost.
'eAd won. The 0ecretary, Dohn :enton, when 'owell nervously ushered him in, didnAt loo$ at all li$e his reputation+which was
that of a touh, shrewd!minded, hard!nosed neotiator, ruthless when the situation demanded and not much iven to consultin his
ca"inet colleaues when it came to decision!ma$in. 'e loo$ed li$e a prosperous farmer and e&uded warmth and eniality+which
deceived Lord Worth, a man who speciali#ed in warmth and eniality not a whit. 'ere, indeed, was a very different $ettle of fish
from 'owell, a man worthy of Lord WorthAs mettle. Lord Worth rose.
:enton shoo$ his hand warmly. ,Lord WorthF This is a rare privilee+to have, if I may "e foriven the unoriinal turn of speech,
to have AmericaAs top oil tycoon callin on us.-
Lord Worth was courteous "ut not deferential. ,I wish it were under happier circumstances. My pleasure, Mr. 0ecretary. ItAs most
$ind of you to spare a few moments. Well, five minutes, no more. My promise.-
,Ta$e as lon as you li$e.- :enton smiled. ,You have the reputation for not "andyin words. I happen to share that sentiment.-
AThan$ you.- 'e loo$ed at 'owell. ,Thirteen minutes to cover forty yards.- 'e loo$ed "ac$ at the 0ecretary. ,Mr. 'owell will
have+ah+ apprised you of the situation@-
,I have "een fairly well "riefed. What do you re)uire of us@- Lord Worth refrained from "eamin. here was a man after his own
heart. Dohn :enton continued. ,We can, of course, approach the 0oviet and ;ene#uelan am"assadors, "ut thatAs li$e approachin a
pair of powderpuffs. All they can do is report our suspicions and veiled threats to their respective overnments. TheyAre powerless,
really. 9ven ten years ao am"assadors carried weiht. They could neotiate and ma$e decisions. /ot any more. They have "ecome,
throuh no fault of their own, faceless and empty people who are consistently "ypassed in state!to!state neotiations. 9ven their
second chauffeurs, who are customarily trained espionae aents, wield vastly more power than the am"assadors themselves.
,Alternatively, we can ma$e a direct approach to the overnments concerned. :ut for that we would have to have proof. Your
word doesnAt come into )uestion, "ut itAs not enouh. We must "e a"le to adduce positive proof of, shall we say, nefarious intent.-
Lord Worth replied immediately. ,0uch proof I can adduce and can ive you the outline now. I am e&tremely reluctant to name
names "ecause it will mean the end of a professional career of a friend of mine. :ut if I have to, that I will do. Whether I release
those names to you or to the pu"lic will depend entirely upon the departmentAs reaction. If I canAt receive a promise of action after I
have iven you this outline, then I have U no recourse other than to approach the pu"lic. This is not "lac$mail. Tin in a corner and the
only solution is to fiht my way out of it. If you will, as I hope you will, ive me a favora"le reaction, I shall, of course, ive you a
list of names, which, I would hope, will not "e pu"lished "y your department. 0ecrecy, in other words. /ot, of course, that this will
prevent you from lettin!loose the *:I the moment I "oard my helicopter out there.-
,The reat warm heart of the American pu"lic versus the incompetent "um"lin of the 0tate 8epartment.- :enton smiled. ,One
"eins to understand why you are a millionaire+I do apoloi#e, "illionaire.-
,9arlier this wee$ a hihly secret meetin was held in a la$eside resort out west. Ten people, all of them very senior oilmen,
attended this meetin. *our were Americans, representin many of the ma(or oil companies in the 0tates. A fifth was from 'onduras.
A si&th was from ;ene#uela, a seventh from /ieria. /um"ers eiht and nine were oil shei$hs from the ?ulf. The last was from the
0oviet <nion. As he was the only one there who had no interest whatsoever hi the flow of oil into the <nited 0tates, one can only
presume that he was there to stir up as much trou"le as possi"le.-
Lord Worth loo$ed around at the five people in the room. That he had their collective ear was "eyond dispute. 0atisfied, he
,The meetin had one purpose and one only in mind. To stop me and to stop me at all costs. More precisely, they wanted to stop
the flow of oil from the 0eawitch+that is the name of my oil ri+"ecause I was considera"ly undercuttin them in price and
there"y raisin all sorts of fiscal pro"lems. If there are any rules or ethics in the oil "usiness I have as yet to detect any. I "elieve
your conressional investiative committees aree one hundred per cent with me on that. Incidentally, /orth 'udson+thatAs the
official name of my company+has never "een investiated.
,The only permanent way to stop the flow of oil is to destroy the 0eawitch. 'alfway throuh the meetin they called in a
professional trou"le!shooter, a man whom I $now well, and a hihly danerous man at that. *or reasons I wonAt e&plain until I et
some sort of uarantee of help, he has a deep and "itter rude aainst me. 'e also happens+(ust coincidentally, of course+to "e
one of the worldAs top e&perts, if not the very top, on the use of hih e&plosives.
,After the meetin this trou"leshooter called aside the ;ene#uelan and 0oviet deleates and as$ed for naval cooperation. This he
was uaranteed.A= Lord Worth loo$ed at the company with a sinular lac$ of enthusiasm. ,/ow perhaps you people will "elieve me.
,I would add that this man so hates me that he would pro"a"ly do the (o" for nothin. 'owever, he has as$ed for+and ot+a fee
of a million dollars. 'e also as$ed for+and ot+ ten million dollarsA Aoperatin e&penses.A What does ten million dollars mean to
you+e&cept the unlimited use of violence@-
,6reposterousF Incredi"leF- The 0ecretary shoo$ his head. ,It has, of course, to "e true. You are sinularly well!informed, Lord
Worth. You would appear to have an intellience service to rival our own.-
,:etter. I pay them more. This oil "usiness is a (unle and itAs a case of survival of the most devious.-
,Industrial espionae@-
,Most certainly not.- It was (ust possi"le that Lord Worth actually "elieved this.
,This friend who may "e comin to the end of his+-
,?ive me all the details, includin a list of the names. 6ut a cross aainst the name of your friend. I shall see to it that he is not
implicated and that only I will see that list.-
,You are very considerate, Mr. 0ecretary.-
,In return I shall consult with 8efense and the 6entaon.- 'e paused. ,9ven that will not "e necessary. In return I can personally
uarantee you a sufficiency of air and sea cover aainst any normal or even considera"le ha#ard.-
Lord Worth didnAt dou"t him. :enton had the reputation of "ein a man of unsha$a"le interity. More important, he had the (ustly
deserved reputation of "ein the 6residentAs indispensa"le riht!hand man. :enton delivered. Lord Worth decided aainst showin
too much relief.
,I cannot tell you how deeply rateful I am.- 'e loo$ed at the stenorapher and then at 'owell. ,If I could "orrow this ladyAs
,Of course.- The stenorapher turned a fresh pae in her note"oo$ and waited e&pectantly.
Lord Worth said. ,The place+La$e Tahoe, 5alifornia. The address+-
The telephone (anled. The stenorapher ave Lord Worth an ,e&cuse me- smile and pic$ed up the handset. 'owell said to the
0ecretary. ,8ammit, I ave the strictest instructions+-
,ItAs for Lord Worth.- 0he was loo$in at :enton. ,A Mr. Mitchell from *lorida. 9&tremely urent.- The 0ecretary nodded and
the stenorapher rose and handed the phone to Lord Worth.
,Michael@ 'ow did you $now I was here . . . Yes, IAm listenin.-
'e listened without interruption. As he did so, to the considera"le consternation of those watchin him, the color drained from his
tanned chee$s and left them an unhealthy sallow color. It was :enton himself who rose, poured out a "randy and "rouht it across to
Lord Worth, who too$ it "lindly and drained the not inconsidera"le contents at a ulp. :enton too$ the lass from him and went for a
refill. When he came "ac$ Lord Worth too$ the drin$ "ut left it untouched. Instead he handed the instrument to :enton and held his
left hand over Ms now screwed!shut eyes.
:enton spo$e into the phone. ,0tate 8epartment. WhoAs spea$in@-
MitchellAs voice was faint "ut clear. ,Michael Mitchell, from Lord WorthAs home. Is that+is that 8r. :enton@-
,Yes. Lord Worth seems to have received a severe shoc$.-
,Yes, sir. 'is two dauhters have "een $idnaped.-
,?ood ?od a"oveF- :entonAs ha"itual impertur"a"ility had received a severe dent. /o one had even seen him reister shoc$
"efore. 6erhaps it was the "luntness of the announcement. ,Are you sure@-
,I wish to hell I wasnAt, sir.-
,Who are you@-
,We+my partner Dohn Roomer and I+are private investiators. We are not here in an investiative capacity. We are here "ecause
we are neih"ors and friends of Lord Worth and his dauhters.-
,5alled the police@-
,WhatAs "een done@-
,We have arraned for the "loc$in of all air and sea escape routes.-
,You have descriptions@-
,6oor. *ive men, heavily armed, wearin stoc$in mas$s.-
,WhatAs your opinion of the local law@-
,IAll call in the *:I.-
,Yes, sir. :ut as the criminals havenAt "een traced, thereAs no evidence that theyAve crossed the state line.-
,'ell with state lines and reulations. If I say theyAre called in, thatAs it. 'old on. I thin$ Lord Worth would li$e another word.-
Lord Worth too$ the receiver. 0ome color had returned to his chee$s.
,IAm leavin now. Less than three hours, I should say. IAll radio from the :oein half an hour out. Meet me at the airport.-
,Yes, sir. 5ommander Larsen would li$e to $now+-
,Tell him.- Lord Worth replaced the phone, too$ another sip of his "randy. ,ThereAs no fool li$e an old fool, and only a "lind fool
would have overloo$ed so o"vious a move. This is war, even if undeclared war, and in war no holds are "arred. To thin$ that it
should come to this "efore you had incontroverti"le proof that I am indeed under siee. <nforiva"le. To have left my dauhters
unuarded was wholly unforiva"le. Why didnAt I have the sense to leave Mitchell and Roomer on uard@- 'e loo$ed at his now!
empty lass and the stenorapher too$ it away.
:enton was faintly s$eptical. ,:ut aainst five armed men@-
Lord Worth loo$ed at him morosely. ,I had forotten that you donAt $now those men. Mitchell, for e&ample, could have ta$en care
of them all "y himself. 'eAs lethal.-
,0o theyAre your friends, and you respect them. 8onAt ta$e offense, Lord Worth, "ut is there any way that they could "e implicated
in this@-
,You must "e out of your mind.- Lord Worth, still morose, sipped his third "randy. ,0orry, IAm not myself. 0ure, theyAd li$e to
$idnap my dauhters, almost as much as my dauhters would li$e to "e $idnaped "y them.-
,That the way it is@- :enton seemed mildly astonished. In his e&perience, "illionairesA dauhters did not normally associate with
the li$es of private investiators.
,ThatAs the way. And hi answer to your ne&t two )uestions. yes, I approve and no, they donAt ive a damn a"out my money.- 'e
shoo$ his head wonderinly. ,It is e&tremely odd. And I shall forecast this, Mr. 0ecretary. When Marina and Melinda are "rouht
"ac$ to me it wonAt "e throuh the ood offices of either the local police or your precious *:I. Mitchell and Roomer will "rin them
"ac$. One does not wish to sound overly dramatic, "ut they would, )uite literally, ive their lives for my dauhters.-
,And, as a corollary, they would cut down anyone who ot in their way@-
*or the first time since the phone call Lord Worth smiled, al"eit faintly. ,IAll ta$e the fifth amendment on that one.-
,I must meet those paraons sometime.-
,Dust as lon as itAs not over the wron end of MitchellAs un.- 'e rose, leavin his drin$ unfinished, and loo$ed round the room.
,I must o. Than$ you all for your $indness and consideration, not to say for"earance.- 'e left with the 0ecretary "y his side.
When the door closed "ehind him ?eneral Tweic$er rose and poured himself a "randy. ,Well. What may "e the $idnapin of the
century pales into insinificance compared to the li$elihood of the Russ$ies startin to throw thins at us.- 'e too$ some "randy.
,8onAt tell me IAm the only person who can see the hellish witchesA "rew Lord Worth is stirrin up for us@-
It was clear that all three listenin to him had a very sharp view of the cauldron. 'owell said. ,LetAs ive Lord Worth his due. 'e
could even "e riht when he says heAs lad heAs ot a :ritish passport. The stirrers!up are our own compatriots% the holier!than!thou
ma(or American oil companies, who are willin to crucify Lord Worth and put their country at (eopardy "ecause of their "lind
,I donAt care whoAs responsi"le.- The stenorapherAs voice was plaintive. ,8oes anyone $now where I can et a "om" shelter
:enton led Worth down one fliht of stairs and out onto the sunlit lawn, where the helicopter was waitin.
:enton said. ,9ver tried to find words to tell someone how damna"ly sorry you feel@-
,I $now from e&perience. 8onAt try. .:ut than$s.-
,I could have our personal physician accompany you down to *lorida.-
,Than$s aain. :ut IAm fine now.-
,And you havenAt had lunch@- :enton, clearly, was findin conversational am"its heavy oin.
,As I donAt much care for plastic lunches from plastic trays, I have an e&cellent *rench chef a"oard my plane.- Aain a faint
smile. ,And two stewardesses, chosen solely for their ood loo$s. I shall not want. ,
They reached the steps of the helicopter. :enton said. ,YouAve had neither the time nor opportunity to ive me that list of names.
*or the moment thatAs of no conse)uence. I (ust want you to $now that my uarantee of protection remains in force.-
Lord Worth shoo$ his hand silently and clim"ed the steps.
:y this time 5onde, a"oard the Roomer, had arrived at the 0Vawitch, and the "i derric$ crane a"oard the platform was unloadin
the heavy weaponry and mines from the Louisiana arsenal It was a slow and difficult tas$, for the tip of the derric$ "oom was two
hundred feet a"ove sea level and, in all, the transfer was to ta$e a"out three hours. As each dual!purpose antiaircraft un came
a"oard Larsen selected its site and supervised 6alermo and some of his men in securin it in position. this was done "y drillin holes
in the concrete platform, then anchorin the un!carriae "ase with sledehammer!driven steel spi$es. The uns were supposed to "e
re!coilless, "ut then neither Larsen nor 6alermo was much iven to ta$in chances.
The depth chares, when they came, were stac$ed toether in three roups, each halfway "etween the three ape&es of the trianle.
That there was an inherent ris$ in this Larsen was well aware. a stray "ullet or shell+or perhaps not so stray+could well trier the
detonatin mechanism of one of the depth chares, which would inevita"ly send up the other chares in sympathetic detonation. :ut
it was a ris$ that had to "e ta$en if for no other reason than the fact there was no other place where they could "e stored ready for
immediate use. And when and if the time came for their use the need would "e immediate.
The drillin crew watched 6alermo and his men at wor$, their e&pressions ranin from disinterest to approval. /either roup of
men spo$e to the other. Larsen was no reat "eliever in fraterni#ation.
Thins were oin well. The defensive system was "ein steadily installed. The 5hristmas tree, the peculiar name iven to the
valve which controlled the flow of oil from the already tapped reservoir, was wide open and oil was "ein steadily pumped to the
hue storae tan$ while the derric$ drill, set at its widest anle, was drivin even deeper into the su"stratum of the ocean floor,
see$in to discover as yet untapped oil deposits. All was oin well, there were no overt sins of attac$ or preparation for attac$
from air or sea, "ut Larsen was not as happy as he miht have "een, even despite the fact that they were still receivin the half!hour
reular ,on course, on time- reports from the Qpr"ello.
'e was unhappy partly "ecause of the non!e&istence of the Ti"uron. 'e had recently learned from ?alveston that there was no
vessel listed in naval or coast uard reistries under the name Ti"uron. 'e had then as$ed that they chec$ civilian reistrations and
had "een told that this was a forlorn hope. It would ta$e many hours, perhaps days, to carry out this type of investiation, and private
vessels, unless fully insured, would show up neither in official reistries nor in those of the ma(or marine!insurance companies.
There was no law which said they had to "e insured, and the owners of the older and more decrepit craft didnAt even "other to insure.
there are such thins as ta& write!offs.
Larsen was not to $now that his )uest was a hopeless one. When Mulhooney had first ta$en over the Ti"uron it had "een called the
'am!mond, which he had thouhtfully had painted out and replaced "y the name Ti"uron on the way to ?alveston. 0ince 5ron$ite
had since replaced that "y the name ?eoria, "oth the 'am!mond and the Ti"uron had ceased to e&ist.
:ut what concerned Larsen even more was his conviction that somethin was far wron. 'e was una"le to put a finer on what
this miht "e. 'e was essentially a pramatist of the first order, "ut he was also a man who relied heavily on instinct and intuition.
'e was a man occasionally iven to powerful premonitions, and more often than not those premonitions had turned into reality. And
so when the loudspea$er "oomed ,5ommander Larsen to the radio ca"in, 5ommander Larsen to the radio ca"in,- he was possessed
of an immediate certainty that the hour of his premonition had come.
'e wal$ed leisurely enouh toward the radio ca"in, partly "ecause it would never do for 5ommander Larsen to "e seen hurryin
an&iously anywhere, partly "ecause he was in no reat hurry to hear the "ad news he was convinced he was a"out to hear. 'e told
the radio operator that he would li$e to ta$e this call privately, waited until the man had left and closed the door "ehind him, then
pic$ed up the telephone.
,5ommander Larsen.-
,Mitchell. I promised IAd call.-
,Than$s. 'eard from Lord Worth@ 'e said heAd $eep in touch, "ut no word.-
,/o wonder. 'is dauhters have "een $idnaped.-
Larsen said nothin immediately. Dudin from the ivoried $nuc$les, the telephone hand!piece seemed in daner of "ein crushed.
Althouh carin "asically only for tirmself, he had formed an avuncular attachment toward Lord WorthAs dauhters, "ut even that
was unimportant compared to the implications the $idnapin held for the welfare of the 0eawitch. When he did spea$ it was in a
steady, controlled voice.
,When did this happen@-
,This mornin. And no trace of them. WeAve "loc$ed every escape route in the southern part of the state. And there is no report
from any port or airport of any unusual departure since the time of the $idnapin.-
,;anished into thin air@-
,;anished, anyway. :ut not into thin air, we thin$. Terra firma, more li$ely. We thin$ theyAve one to earth, and are holed up not
far away. :ut itAs only a euess.-
,/o communication, no demands, from the $idnapers@-
,/one. ThatAs what ma$es it all so odd.-
,You thin$ this is a ransom $idnap@-
,The 0eawitch.G
,8o you $now why Lord Worth went to Washinton@-
,/o. IAd li$e to.-
,To demand naval protection. 9arly this mornin a Russian destroyer and a 5u"an su"marine left 'avana, while another destroyer
left ;ene#uela. They are on converin courses. The point of converence would appear to "e the 0eawitch.-
There was a silence, then Mitchell said. ,This is for sure@-
,Yes. Well, Lord WorthAs cup of woes would seem to "e fairly full. The only consolation is that nothin much else can happen to
him after this. 6lease $eep me informed.-
In Lord WorthAs radio room "oth Mitchell and Roomer hun up their phones.
Mitchell "riefly induled in some improper lanuae. ,?od, I never thouht his enemies would o to this lenth.-
Roomer said. ,/either did I. IAm not sure that I even thin$ so now.-
,You mean <ncle 0amAs not oin to let any forein naval powers play ames in our own "ac$yard@-
,0omethin li$e that. I donAt thin$ the 0oviets would o so far as to ris$ a confrontation. 5ould "e a "luff, a diversionary move.
May"e the real attac$ is comin from elsewhere.-
,May"e anythin. 5ould "e a dou"le "lwff. One thinAs sure. LarsenAs riht in sayin that Lord WorthAs cup of woes is fairly full.
In fact, IAd say it was runnin over.-
,Loo$s that way,- Roomer said a"sently. 'is thouhts were clearly elsewhere.
Mitchell said. ,8onAt tell me youAre in the throes of intuition aain@-
,IAm not sure. When you were tal$in to Larsen (ust now you mentioned Aterra firma.A *irm land, dry land. What if it werenAt dry
land@ What if it were <nfirm land@-
Mitchell waited patiently.
Roomer said. ,If you wanted to hole up, really et lost hi *lorida, where would you o@-
Mitchell hardly had to thin$. ,YouAre rihtF <nfirm laud, infirm land, whatever you want to call it. The 9verlades, of course.
Where else@-
,Man could hide out for a month there, and a "attalion of troops couldnAt find him. Which e&plains why the cops have "een una"le
to find the station waon.- :etween them, Mac6herson and Den$ins had "een a"le to ive a fairly accurate description of the
$idnapersA waon. ,TheyAve "een chec$in the hihways and "yways. IAll "et they never even thouht of chec$in the roads into the
,8id we@-
,Riht. We "lew it. There are do#ens of those roads into the lades, "ut most of them are very short and riht away you reach a
point where a wheeled vehicle canAt o any further. A few do#en police cars could com" the nearest swamps in an hour.-
Mitchell said to Ro"ertson. ,?et 5hief Mc!?arrity.-
A $noc$ came on the half!open door and Louise, one of the youn housemaids, entered. 0he held a card in her hand. 0he said. ,I
was (ust ma$in up Miss MarinaAs "ed when I found this "etween the sheets.-
Mitchell too$ the card. It was a plain callin card ivin MarinaAs name and address.
Louise said. ,Other side.-
Mitchell reversed the card, holdin it so that Roomer could see. 'andwritten with a "allpoint were the words. ,;acation. Little
island in the sun. /o swimsuit.-
,You $now MarinaAs handwritin, Louise@- Mitchell had suddenly reali#ed that he didnAt.
The irl loo$ed at the card. ,Yes, sir. IAm sure.-
,Than$s, Louise. This could "e very useful.- Louise smiled and left. Mitchell said to Roomer. ,What $ind of lousy detective are
you@ Why didnAt you thin$ of searchin the "edrooms@- . ,'mm. 0he must have as$ed them to leave while she dressed.-
,YouAd have thouht sheAd have "een too scared to thin$ of this.-
,The handwritinAs steady enouh. :esides, she doesnAt scare easily. 9&cept, that is, when you point a un "etween her eyes.-
,I wish, riht here and now, that I was pointin a un "etween someone elseAs eyes. Little island in the sun where you canAt o
"athin. An overconfident $idnaper can tal$ too much. You thin$in what IAm thin$in@-
Roomer nodded. ,The 0eawitch.-
At thirty!three thousand feet, Lord Worth had (ust completed a liht "ut delicious lunch accompanied "y a splendid :ordeau&
wine, specially laid down for him in a Rothschild winery. 'e had reained his ha"itual calm. 'e had, he rec$oned, touched his nadir.
All that could happen had happened. In common with Larsen, Mitchell and Roomer, he was convinced that the fates could touch him
no more. A' four were completely and terri"ly wron. The worst was yet to come. It was, in fact, happenin riht then.
5olonel *ar)uharson, Lieutenant!5olonel 8ewins, and Ma(or :rec$ley were not in fact the people their I8 cards claimed they
were, for the sufficient reason that there were no officers of that ran$ with correspondin names in the <. 0. Army. :ut then, it was a
very "i army, and no"ody, not even the officers, could possi"ly "e e&pected to $now the names of more than a tiny fraction of their
fellow officers. /or were their faces their normal faces, althouh they could hardly "e descri"ed as "ein heavily disuised. The
man responsi"le had "een a 'ollywood ma$e!up artist who preferred su"tlety to false "eards. All three men were dressed in so"er
and well!cut "usiness suits.
*ar)uharson presented his card to the corporal at the outer reception des$. ,5olonel *ar)uharson to see 5olonel 6ryce.- ,IAm
afraid heAs not here, sir.- ,Then the officer in chare, soldier.- ,Yes, sir.-
A minute later they were seated "efore a youn and apprehensive 5aptain Martin, who had (ust finished a rather reluctant and very
perfunctory scrutiny of the I8 cards.
*ar)uharson said. ,0o 5olonel 6ryce has "een called to Washinton. I can uess why.-
'e didnAt have to uess. 'e himself had put throuh the fa$e call that had led to 6ryceAs a"rupt departure. ,And his second in
command@- ,*lu, sir.- Martin sounded apoloetic. ,At this time of year@ 'ow inconvenient. 9specially today. You can uess why
weAre here.-
,Yes, sir.- Martin loo$ed slihtly unhappy. ,0ecurity chec$. I had a phone call tellin me of the "rea$!ins into the *lorida and
Louisiana depots.- 8ewins had put throuh that one. ,IAm sure youAll find everythin in order, sir.-
,8ou"tless. I have already discovered somethin that is not in order.-
,0ir@- There was a definite apprehension now in MartinAs voice and appearance.
,0ecurity!consciousness. 8o you $now that there are literally do#ens of shops where I cpuld "uy, perfectly leally, a eneralAs
uniform. Those are the specialty shops that cater primarily to the film and stae industries. If I wal$ed in dressed in such a uniform,
would you accept me for what my uniform proclaimed me to "e@-
,I suppose I would, sir.-
,Well, donAt. /ot ever aain.- 'e lanced at his identity card lyin on the des$. ,*orin one of those presents no pro"lems.
When a straner ma$es an appearance in a top security place li$e this, always, always, chec$ his identity with Area 5ommand. And
always tal$ only to the commandin officer.-
,Yes, sir. 8o you happen to $now his name@ *m new here.-
,Ma(or!?eneral 'arsworth.-
Martin had the corporal at the front des$ put him throuh. On the first rin a voice answered. ,Area 5ommand.-
The voice did not in fact come from Area 5ommand. It came from a man less than half a mile away, seated at the "ase of a
telephone pole. 'e had with him a "attery!powered transceiver. An insulated copper line from that led up to an alliator clip attached
to one of the telephone wires.
Martin said. ,/etley Rowan Arsenal. 5aptain Martin. IAd li$e to spea$ to ?eneral 'arsworth.-
,'old on, please.- There was a series of clic$s, a pause of some seconds, then the same voice said. ,On the line, 5aptain.-
Martin said. ,?eneral 'arsworth.-
,0pea$in.- The man "y the telephone pole had deepened his voice "y an octave. ,6ro"lems, 5aptain Martin@-
,I have 5olonel *ar)uharson with me. 'e insists that I chec$ out his identity with you.-
The voice at the other end was sympathetic. ,:een ettin a security lecture@-
,IAm afraid I have, sir.-
,The colonelAs very hot on security. 'eAs with Lieutenant!5olonel 8ewins and Ma(or :rec$!ley@-
,Yes, sir.-
,Well, itAs hardly the end of your professional career. :ut heAs riht, you $now.-
*ar)uharson himself too$ the wheel of the car on the three!mile (ourney, a chastened, compliant Martin sittin up front "eside
him. A fifteen!foot!hih electrical!warnin "ar"ed!wire fence surrounded the arsenal, a s)uat, ray, windowless "uildin coverin
almost half an acre of land. A sentry with a machine car"ine "arred the entrance to the compound. 'e reconi#ed 5aptain Martin,
stepped "ac$ and saluted. *ar)uharson drove up to the one and only door of the "uildin and halted. The four men ot out.
*ar)uharson said to Martin. ,Ma(or :rec$ley has never "een inside a T/W installation "efore. A few illuminatin comments,
perhaps@- It would "e illuminatin for *ar)uharson also. 'e had never "een inside an arsenal of any description in his life.
,Yes, sir, T/W+Tactical /uclear Warfare, Walls thirty!three inches thic$, alternatin steel and ferroconcrete. 8oor ten inches
tunsten steels. :oth walls and door capa"le of resistin the e)uivalent of a fourteen!inch armor!piercin naval shell. This lass
panel is recordin us on T; videotape. This meshed rill is a two!way spea$er which also records our voices.- 'e pressed a "utton
sun$ in the concrete.
A voice came throuh the rill. ,Identification, please@-
,5aptain Martin with 5olonel *ar)uharson and security inspection.- ,5ode@-
,?eronimo.- The massive door "ean to slide open and they could hear the hum of a powerful electrical motor. It too$ all of ten
seconds for the door to open to its fullest e&tent. Martin led them inside.
A corporal saluted their entrance. Martin said. ,0ecurity inspection tour.-
,Yes, sir.- The corporal didnAt seem too happy.
*ar)uharson said. ,You worried a"out somethin, soldier@-
,/o, sir.-
,Then you should "e.-
Martin said. ,0omethin wron, sir@- 'e was patently nervous.
,*our thins.- Martin dipped his head so that *ar)uharson couldnAt see his nervous swallowin. One thin would have "een "ad
,In the first place, that sentry ate should "e $ept permanently loc$ed. It should only "e opened after a phone call to your 'O and
an electronic lin$ for openin the ate installed in your office. WhatAs to prevent a person or persons with a silenced automatic
disposin of your sentry and drivin straiht up here@ 0econd, what would prevent people wal$in throuh the open doorway and
sprayin us all with su"machine uns@ That door should have "een shut the moment we passed throuh.- The corporal started to
move "ut *ar)uharson stopped him with upraised hand.
,Third, all people who are not "ase personnel+such as we+should "e finerprinted on arrival. I will arrane to have your uards
trained in those techni)ues. *ourth, and most important, show me the controls for those doors.-
,This way, sir.- The corporal led the way to a small console. ,The red "utton opens, the reen one closes.-
*ar)uharson pressed the reen "utton. The massive door hissed slowly closed. ,<nsatisfactory. Totally. Those are the only
controls to operate the door@-
,Yes, sir.- Martin loo$ed very unhappy indeed.
,We shall have another electronic lin$ esta"lished with your 'O, which will render those "uttons inopera"le until the correct
sinal is sent.- *ar)uharson was showin sins of irritation. ,I would have thouht ah= those thins were self!evident.-
Martin smiled wea$ly. ,They are now, sir.-
,What percentae of e&plosives, "om"s and shells stored here are conventional@-
,5lose to ninety!five per cent, sir.-
,*d li$e to see the nuclear weapons first.-
,Of course, sir.- A now thorouhly demorali#ed Martin led the way.
The T/W section was compartmented off "ut not sealed. One side was lined with what appeared to "e shells, stowed on rac$s% the
other, with pear!shaped metal canisters a"out thirty inches hih, with "uttons, a cloc$face and a lare $nurled screw on top. :eyond
them were stac$ed suitcases, each with two leather handles.
:rec$ley indicated the pear!shaped canisters. ,What are those@ :om"s@-
,:oth "om"s and land mines.- Martin seemed lad to tal$ and ta$e his mind off his trou"les. ,Those controls on top are relatively
simple. :efore you et at those two red switches you have to unscrew those two transparent plastic covers. The switches have then
to "e turned ninety derees to the riht. They are then still in the safe position. They then have to "e flipped ninety derees to the
left. This is the ready!to!activate position.
,:efore that is done, you have to put the time settin on the cloc$. That is done "y means of this $nurled $no" here. One complete
turn means a one!minute time delay which will show up on this cloc$face here. It reisters in seconds, as you can see. Total time
delay is thirty minutes+ thirty turns.-
,And this "lac$ "utton@-
,The most important of them all. /o cover and no turnin. You miht want to et at it in a hurry. 8epressin that stops the cloc$
and, in fact, deactivates the "om".-
,WhatAs the area of damae@-
,5ompared to the conventional atom "om", tiny. The vapori#ation area would "e a )uarter!mile radius. 6erhaps less. The "last,
shoc$ and radiation areas would, of course, "e considera"ly reater.-
,You mean they can "e used as "oth "om"s and mines@-
,Instead of mines, may"e I should have said an e&plosive device for use on land. As "om"s the settin would pro"a"ly "e only si&
seconds+ in tactical warfare they would "e carried "y low!flyin supersonic planes. TheyAd "e a"out two miles clear "y the time
the "om" went off and movin too fast for the shoc$ waves to catch up with them. *or land use+well, say you wanted to infiltrate
an ammunition dump. YouAd chec$ how lon it would ta$e you to infiltrate there, calculate how lon it would ta$e you to et out and
clear of the "last #one, and set the timer accordinly.
,The missiles here+-
,WeAve seen and heard enouh,- *ar)uharson said. ,Hindly put your hands up.-
*ive minutes later, with the furiously reluctant assistance of Martin, they had loaded two of the "om"s, safely concealed in their
carryin cases, into the trun$ of their car. In the process the purpose of the two carryin handles "ecame clear. each "om" must have
weihed at least ninety pounds.
*ar)uharson went "ac$ inside, loo$ed indifferently at the two "ound men, pressed the "utton and slipped throuh the doorway as
the door "ean to close. 'e waited until the door was completely shut, then clim"ed into the front seat "eside Martin, who was at the
wheel this time. *ar)uharson said. ,Remem"er, one false move and youAre a dead man. We will, of course, have to $ill the sentry
There were no false moves. A"out a mile from the "uildin the car stopped "y a thic$et of stunted trees. Martin was marched deep
into the thic$et, "ound, aed and attached to a tree (ust in case he miht have any ideas a"out (ac$!$nifin his way down to the
roadside. *ar)uhar!son loo$ed down at him.
,Your security was lousy. WeAll phone your 'O in an hour or so, let them $now where they can find you. I trust there are not too
many rattlesna$es around.-
Chapter 6
Dtto :9RT0O/ loo$ed up from the radio console. ,5hief Mc?arrity.-
Mitchell too$ the phone. ,Mitchell@ WeAve found the $idnapersA estate waon. 8own "y the Wyanee 0wamp.- Mc?arrity sounded
positively elated. ,IAm oin there personally. Trac$er dos. Til wait for you at the Walnut Tree crossin.- Mitchell replaced the
receiver and said to Roomer. ,Mc?arrityAs ot it all wrapped up. 'eAs found the estate waon. Well . . . someone did, "ut of course it
will "e made clear eventually that it was Mc?arrity.-
,9mpty, of course. 8oesnAt that old fool $now that this ma$es it more difficult, not easier@ At least we $new what transport they
were usin. /ot any more. 'e didnAt mention anythin a"out "rinin alon a newspaper photorapher that he (ust sort of
accidentally "umped into@-
,Trac$er dos were all he mentioned.-
,8id he suest anythin for the dos to sniff at@- Mitchell shoo$ his head, Roomer shoo$ his and called to Den$ins. ,Will you
et Louise, please@-
Louise appeared very )uic$ly. Roomer said. ,We need a piece of clothin that the ladies used to wear a lot.-
0he loo$ed uncertain. ,I donAt understand+-
,0ome thins we can ive "loodhounds to sniff so that they pic$ up their scent.-
,Oh.- It re)uired only a secondAs thouht. ,Their dressin owns, of course.- This with "ut the slihtest hint of disapproval, as if
the irls spent most of the day lounin a"out in those arments.
,'andle as little as possi"le, please. 6ut each in a separate plastic "a.-
A patrol car and a small closed police van awaited them at the Walnut Tree crossin. Mc?arrity was standin "y the police car. 'e
was a small "ouncy man who radiated oodwill and only stopped smilin when he was vehemently denouncin corruption in
politics. 'e was a police chief of incompara"le incompetence, "ut was a consummate and wholly corrupt politician, whiQh was whv
he was police chief. 'e shoo$ the hands of Mitchell and Roomer with all the warmth and sincerity of an incum"ent comin up for
re!election, which was precisely what he was.
,?lad to meet you two entlemen at last. 'eard very ood reports a"out you.- 'e appeared to have conveniently forotten his
alleation that thev ave a lot of trou"le to the local law. ,Appreciate all the co!operation youAve iven me+and for turnin up here
now. This is Ron 0tewart of the 'erald.- 'e estured throuh an open car window where a man, apparently festooned in cameras,
sat in the "ac$ seat. ,Hind of accidentally "umped into him.-
Mitchell cho$ed, turnin it into a couh. ,Too many ciarettes.-
,0ame failin myself. 8riverAs the do handler. 8river of the van is the other one. Dust follow us, please.-
*ive miles farther on they reached the turn!off+one of many+into the Wyanee 0wamp. The foliae of the trees, almost touchin
overhead, )uic$ly reduced the liht to that of a late winter afternoon. The increase in the humidity was almost immediately
noticea"le, as was the sour, nose!wrin$l i n miasma as they neared the swamp. A distinctly unhealthy atmosphere, or such was the
first impression. "ut many people with a mar$ed aversion to what passed for
civili#ation lived there all their lives and seemed none the worse for it.
The increasinly rutted, "umpy road had "ecome almost intolera"le until they rounded a "lind corner and came across the
a"andoned station waon.
The first essential was, apparently, that pictures "e ta$en, and the second that Mc?arrity "e well!placed in each one, his hand
prefera"ly restin in a proprietorial fashion on the hood. That done, the cameraman fitted a flash attachment and was reachin for
the rear door when Roomer clamped his wrist not too ently. ,8onAt do thatF-
,Why not@-
,/ever "een on a criminal case "efore@ *inerprints is why not.- 'e loo$ed at Mc?arrity. ,9&pectin them soon@-
,0houldnAt "e lon. Out on a case. 5hec$ on them, 8on.- This to the driver, who immediately ot "usy on his radio. It was clear
that the idea of "rinin finerprint e&perts alon had never occurred to Mc?arrity.
The dos were released from the van. Roomer and Mitchell opened up their plastic "as and allowed the dos to sniff the dressin
owns. Mc?arrity said. ,What you ot there@-
,The irlsA dressin owns. To ive your hounds a scent. We $new youAd want somethin.-
,Of course. :ut dressin ownsF- Mc?arrity was a past master in coverin up. 0omethin else, clearly, that had not occurred to
The dos cauht the scents at once and strained at their leashes as they nosed their way down a rutted path, for the road had come
to an a"rupt end. Inside a hundred yards, their path was "loc$ed "y water. It wasnAt a true part of the swamp "ut a slow, meanderin,
mud!"rown cree$, perhaps twenty feet across, if that. There was a moorin post near"y, with a similar one at the far "an$. Also "y
the far "an$ was a warped and aed craft which not even the charita"le could have called a "oat. It was "uilt alon the lines of an
oversi#ed coffin, with a s)uared!off end where the "ow should have "een. The ferry+pro"a"ly the most $indly name for it+ was
attached to the two posts "y an endless pulley line.
The two do handlers hauled the "oat across, ot into it with understanda"le caution, and were (oined "y their dos, who $ept on U
disolayin considera"le sins of animation, an animation which rapidly diminished, then vanished shortly after they had landed on
the far "an$. After ma$in a few fruitless circles, they lay down de(ectedly on the round.
,Well, ainAt that a shame,- a voice said, ATrail one cold, I uess.-
The four men on the near "an$ turned to loo$ at the source of the voice. 'e was a "i#arre character, wearin a new panama hat
with a tartan "and, leamin thih!lenth leather "oots Rpresuma"ly as a protection aainst sna$e"itesS, and
clothes discarded "y a scarecrow. ,You fol$s chasinA someone@-
,WeAre loo$in for someone,- Mc?arrity said cautiously.
,Lawmen, yes@-
,5hief of 6olice Mc?arrity.-
,'onored, IAm sure. Well, 5hief, youAre wastin your time. 'ot trail here, cold on the other side. 0o the party youAre loo$in for
ot off halfway across.-
,You saw them@- Mc?arrity as$ed suspiciously.
,'ahF More than one, eh@ /o, sir. Dust happened "y riht now. :ut if I was on the run from the law thatAs what IAd do, "ecause itAs
"een done hundreds of times. You can et out midway, wal$ half a mile, even a mile, upstream or downstream. 8o#ens of little
rivulets come into this cree$. You could turn up any of those, o a mile into the swamp without settin foot on dry land. WouldnAt
find them this side of 5hristmas, 5hief.-
,'ow deep is the cree$@-
,*ifteen inches. If that.-
,Then, why the "oat@ I mean, with those "oots you could wal$ across without ettin your feet wet.-
The straner loo$ed almost shoc$ed. ,/o sirree. Ta$es me an hour every mornin to polish up them critters.- It was assumed that
he was referrin to his "oots. ,:esides, thereAre the water moccasins.- 'e seemed to have a rooted aversion to sna$es. ,The "oat@
5ome the rains, the cree$As up to here.- 'e touched his chest.
Mc?arrity called the do handlers to return. Mitchell said to the straner. ,Anyplace in the swamp where a helicopter could
,0ure. More firm land out there than there is swampland. /ever seen any helicopters, thouh. Yes, lots of clearins.-
The do handlers and dos disem"ar$ed. Leavin the straner to flic$ some invisi"le dust off his "oots they made their way "ac$
to the station waon. Mitchell said. ,Wait a minute. IAve ot an idea.- 'e opened the two plastic "as containin the dressin owns
and presented them to the dos aain. 'e then wal$ed "ac$ up the rutted lane, past the two cars and vans, "ec$onin the do
handlers to follow him, which they did, almost havin to dra the reluctant dos "ehind them.
After a"out twenty yards the reluctance vanished. The dos yelped and strained at their leashes. *or another twenty yards they
towed their handlers alon "ehind them, then a"ruptly stopped and circled a few times "efore sittin down dispiritedly. Mitchell
crouched and e&amined the surface of the lane. The others cauht up with him.
Mc?arritty said. ,What ives, then@-
,This.- Mitchell pointed to the round. AThere was another vehicle here. You can see where its "ac$ wheels spun when it started to
reverse. The $idnapers uessed weAd "e <sin dos+it wasnAt all that hard a uess. 0o they carried the irls twenty yards or so, to
"rea$ the scent, "efore settin them down aain.-
,Riht smart of you, Mr. Mitchell, riht smart.- Mc?arrity didnAt loo$ as pleased as his words suested. ,0o the "irds have
flown, eh@ And now we havenAt the faintest idea what the etaway vehicle loo$s li$e.-
Roomer said. ,0ome"odyAs flown, thatAs for sure. :ut may"e only one or two. May"e theyAve one to "orrow a helicopter.-
,A helicopter@- The waters didnAt have to "e very deep for 5hief Mc?arrity to start flounderin.
With a trace of weary impatience Mitchell said. ,It could "e a dou"le "luff. May"e they reversed the procedure and too$ the irls
"ac$ to the station waon aain. May"e theyAre still in the swamp, waitin for a helicopter to come arid pic$ them up. You heard the
old "oy "ac$ there+he said there were plenty of places in the swamp where a helicopter could set down.-
Mc?arrity nodded saely and appeared to ponder the matter deeply. The time had come, he felt, for him to ma$e a positive
contri"ution. ,The swampAs out. 'opeless. 0o IAll have to concentrate on the helicopter anle.-
Mitchell said. ,'ow do you propose to do that@-
,Dust you leave that to me.- Roomer said. ,ThatAs hardly fair, 5hief. WeAve iven you our complete confidence. 8onAt you thin$
weAre entitled to some in return@-
,Well, now.- Mc?arrity appeared to ruminate, althouh he was secretly pleased to "e as$ed the )uestion, as Roomer had $nown
he would "e. ,If the chopper doesnAt et in there, it canAt very well lift them out, can it@-
,ThatAs a fact,- Roomer said solemnly. ,0o I station mar$smen round this side of the swamp. ItAs no "i deal to "rin down a low!
flyine chopper.-
Mitchell said. ,I wouldnAt do that if I were you.-
,/o, indeed.- Roomer shoo$ his head. ,The law frowns on murder.-
,Murder@- Mc?arrity stared at them. ,WhoAs tal$in a"out murder@-
AWe are,- Mitchell said. ,Rifle or machine!un fire could $ill someone inside the helicopter. If it "rins down the helicopter theyAd
all pro"a"ly die. May"e there are criminals a"oard, "ut theyAre entitled to a fair trial. And has it occurred to you that the pilot will
almost certainly "e an innocent party with a pistol pointed at his head@- Mc?arrity, clearly, had not thouht of that. ,/ot oin to
ma$e us very popular, is it@-
Mc?arrity winced. 9ven the thouht of unpopularity and the forthcomin election made him feel wea$ inside.
,0o what the devil do we do@-
Roomer was fran$. ,IAll "e damned if I $now. You can post o"servers. You can even have a rounded helicopter standin "y to
chase the other one when it ta$es off. 77 it ever comes in the first place. WeAre only uessin.-
,/o more we can do here,- Mitchell said. ,WeAve already missed too many appointments today. WeAll "e in touch.-
:ac$ on the hihway Roomer said. ,'ow do you thin$ heAd do as a docatcher@-
,6lace would "e overrun "y stray dos in a few months. 'ow much faith have you ot in this idea that they miht use a
,A lot. If they (ust wanted to chane cars they wouldnAt have one throuh this ela"orate rimarole. They could have par$ed their
station waon out of siht almost anyplace. :y apparently oin into hidin in the swamp they wanted to ma$e it loo$ as thouh
they were preparin to hole up in there for some time. They hadnAt fiured on our "ac$in+your "ac$trac$in+up the lane.-
,WeAre pretty sure their destination is the 0eawitch. WeAre pretty sure theyAll use a helicopter. Which helicopter and pilot would
you use@-
,Lord WorthAs. /ot only are his pilots almost certainly the only ones who $now the e&act co!ordinates of the 0eawitch, "ut those
distinctly mar$ed /orth 'udson helicopters are the only ones that could approach the 0eawitch without raisin suspicion.-
Roomer reached for the phone, fiddled with the wave!"and control and raised Lord WorthAs house. ,Dim@- ,?o ahead, Mr.
Roomer.- ,WeAre comin "ac$ there. Loo$ for Lord WorthAs address "oo$. 6ro"a"ly riht "y you in your radio room. Ma$e us a list
of the names and addresses of his helicopter pilots. Is the ate$eeper at the heliport on the radio!phone, too@-
,?et that for us too, please.-
Roomer said to Mitchell. ,0till thin$ we shouldnAt warn Larsen a"out our suspicions@-
,ThatAs for sure.- Mitchell was very definite. AThe 0eawitch is LarsenAs "a"y, and the $ind of reception heAd prepare for them
miht "e a "it overenthusiastic. 'owAd you li$e to e&plain to Lord Worth how come his dauhters ot cauht in the crossfire@-
,/o wayF- Roomer spo$e with some feelin. ,Or even e&plain to yourself how Melinda ot shot throuh the lun@-
Roomer inored him. ,What if weAre wron a"out WorthAs pilots@-
AThen we turn the whole thin over to that ace detective, Mc?arrity.- ,0o weAd "etter "e riht.- They were riht. They were also
too late.
Dohn 5amp"ell was "oth an avid fisherman and an avid reader. 'e had lon since mastered the techni)ues of indulin his two
pleasures simultaneously. A cree$, fairly popular with fish, ran within twenty feet of his "ac$ porch. 5amp"ell was sittin on a
canvas chair, parasol over his head, alternatin every pae with a fresh cast of his line, when 8urand and one of his men, stoc$in!
mas$ed and holdin uns in their hands, came into his line of vision. 5amp"ell rose to his feet, "oo$ still in hand.
,Who are you and what do you want@-
,You. YouAre 5amp"ell, arenAt you@-
,What if I am@-
,Li$e you to do a little (o" for us.-
,What (o"@-
,*ly a helicopter for us.-
,IAll "e damned if I willF-A
,0o you are 5amp"ell. 5ome alon.-
*ollowin the esturin of their uns, 5amp"ell moved "etween the two men. 'e was within one foot of 8urandAs un hand when
he chopped the side of his hand on the wrist that held the un. 8urand runted hi pain, the un fell to the round and a second later
the two men were loc$ed toether, wrestlin, $ic$in and punchin with a fine disreard for the rules of sport, alterin position so
fre)uently that 8urandAs henchman at first found no opportunity to intervene. :ut the opportunity came very soon. The
unsportsmanli$e "ut effective use of 5amp"ellAs riht $nee dou"led 8urand over in aspin aony, "ut enouh instinct was left
him to sei#e 5amp"ellAs shirt as he fell over "ac$ward. This was 5amp"ellAs downfall in more ways than one, for the "ac$ of his
head was now na$edly vulnera"le to a swun automatic.
The man who had felled 5amp"ell now pulled him clear, allowin 8urand to clim" painfully to his feet, althouh still "ent over at
an anle of forty!five derees. 'e pulled off his stoc$in mas$ as if to try to et more air to "reathe. 8urand was Latin American,
with a pale coffee!colored face, thic$ "lac$ curlin hair and a pencil!line mustache% he miht even )ualify as handsome when the
twisted lines of aony ceased to contort his face. 'e straihtened inch "y inch and finally o"tained a modicum of "reath+ enouh,
at least, to allow him to announce what he would li$e to do with 5amp"ell.
,0ome other time, Mr. 8urand. 'e canAt very well fly a chopper from a hospital "ed.-
8urand painfully ac$nowleded the truth of this. ,I hope you didnAt hit nun too hard.- ,Dust a tap.- ,Tie him, tape him and
"lindfold him.-
8urand was now a scarce twenty derees off the vertical. 'is helper left for the car and returned hi moments with cord, tape and
"lindfold. Three minutes later they were on then> way, with a ru!covered and still unconscious 5amp"ell on the floor at the "ac$.
Restin comforta"ly on the ru were 8urandAs feet+he still didnAt feel )uite up to drivin. :oth men had then= mas$s off now+
even in the free!wheelin state of *lorida men drivin with stoc$in mas$s on were li$ely to draw more than passin attention.
Mitchell lanced "riefly at the list of names and addresses Ro"ertson had iven them. ,*ine. :ut what are these chec$s opposite
five of the names@-
Ro"ertson sounded apoloetic. ,I hope you donAt mind+I donAt want to "utt in+"ut I too$ the li"erty of phonin those entlemen
to see if they would "e at home when you came around. I assumed youAd "e seein them "ecause you as$ed for the addresses.-
Mitchell loo$ed at Roomer. ,Why the hell didnAt you thin$ of that@-
Roomer "estowed a cold lance on him and said to Ro"ertson. ,May"e I should have you as a partner. What did you find out@-
,One pilot is standin "y at the airport. *our of the others are at home. The one whose name I havenAt chec$ed+Dohn 5amp"ell+
isnAt home.
I as$ed one of the other pilots a"out this and he seemed a "it surprised. 0aid that 5amp"ell usually spends his afternoons fishin
outside the "ac$ of his house. 'eAs a "achelor and lives in a pretty isolated place.-
,It fiures,- Roomer said. ,A "achelor in isolation. The $idnapers seem to have an e&cellent intellience system. The fact that he
doesnAt answer the phone may mean nothin+he could have one for a wal$, shoppin, visitin friends. On the other! hand+-
,Yes. 9specially on the other hand.- Mitchell turned to leave, then said to Ro"ertson. ,8oes the ate$eeper have a listed phone
num"er as well as the radiophone@-
,IAve typed it on that list.-
,May"e we should "oth have you as a partner.-
Mitchell and Roomer stood on 5amp"ellAs "ac$ lawn and surveyed the scene unemotionally. The canvas chair, on its side, had a
"ro$en le. The parasol was upturned on the rass, over an opened "oo$. The fishin rod was in the water up to its handle and would
have floated away had not the reel snaed on a shru" root Roomer retrieved the rod while Mitchell hurried throuh the "ac$
doorway+the "ac$ door was wide open, as was the front. 'e dialed a phone num"er, and ot an answer on the first rin.
,Lord WorthAs heliport. ?orrie here.-
,My nameAs Mitchell. You have a police uard@-
,Mr. Mitchell@ You Lord WorthAs friend@-
,0ereant Roper is here.-
,That all@ Let me spea$ to him.- There was hardly a pause "efore Roper came on the phone.
,Mi$e@ /ice to hear from you aain.-
,Listen, 0ereant, this is urent. IAm spea$in from the house of Dohn 5amp"ell, one of Lord WorthAs pilots. 'e has "een forci"ly
a"ducted, almost certainly "y some of the $idnapers of Lord WorthAs dauhters. I have every reason to "elieve+no tune for
e&planations now+that theyAre headin in your direction with the intention of hi(ac$in one of Lord WorthAs helicopters and forcin
5amp"ell to fly it. ThereAll "e two of them at least, may"e three, armed and danerous. I suest you call up reinforcements
immediately. If we et them weAll "rea$ them+ at least Roomer and I will% you canAt, youAre a law officer and your hands are tied+
and weAll find where the irls are and et them "ac$,-
,Reinforcements comin up. Then IAll loo$ the other way.-
Mitchell hun up. Roomer was "y his side. Roomer said. ,You prepared to o as far as "ac$!room persuasion to et the
information we want@-
Mitchell loo$ed at him "lea$ly. ,I loo$ forward to it. 8onAt you@-
,/o. :ut Til o alon with you.- Once aain Mitchell and Roomer had uessed correctly. And once aain they were too late.
Mitchell had driven to Lord WorthAs heliport with a minimum reard for traffic and speed reulations, and now, havin arrived
there, he reali#ed "itterly that his haste had "een wholly unnecessary.
*ive men reeted their arrival, althouh it was hardly a cheerful meetin. ?orrie, the ateman, and four policemen. ?ome and
0ereant Roper were tenderly massain their wrists. Mitchell loo$ed at Roper.
,8onAt tell me.- Mitchell sounded weary. ,They (umped you "efore the reinforcements were to hand.-
,Yeah.- RoperAs face was dar$ with aner. ,I $now it sounds li$e the old lame e&cuse, "ut we never had a chance. This car comes
alon and stops outside the atehouse, riht here. The driver+he was alone in the car+seemed to "e havin a snee#in fit and was
holdin a "i wad of Hleene& to his face.-
Roomer said. ,0o you wouldnAt reconi#e him aain@-
,9&actly. Well, we were watchin this dude when a voice from the "ac$+the "ac$ window was open+told us to free#e. I didnAt
even have my hand on my un. We fro#e. Then he told me to drop my un. Well, this uy was no more than
five feet away . . , I dropped my un. 8ead heroes are no ood to anyone. Then he told us to turn around. 'e was wearin a
stoc$in mas$. Then the driver came and tied our wrists "ehind our "ac$s. When we turned around he was wearin a stoc$in mas$
,Then they tied your feet and tied you toether so that you wouldnAt have any funny ideas a"out usin a telephone@-
,ThatAs how it was. :ut they werenAt worried a"out the phones. They cut the lines "efore they too$ off.-
,They too$ off immediately@-
?ome said. ,/o. *ive minutes later. The pilots always radio!file a fliht plan "efore ta$e!off. I suppose these uys forced
5amp"ell to do the same. To ma$e it loo$ $osher.-
Mitchell shrued his indifference. ,Means nothin. You can file a fliht plan to anyplace. 8oesnAt mean you have to $eep it. 'ow
a"out fuel+for the helicopters, I mean@-
,*uelAs always $ept topped up. My (o". Lord WorthAs orders.-
,What direction did they o@-
AThataway.- ?orrie indicated with an outstretched arm.
,Well, the "irds have flown. Miht as well "e on our way.-
,Dust li$e that@- Roper reistered surprise.
,What do you e&pect me to do that the police canAt@-
,Well, for starters, we could call in the Air *orce.-
,They could force it down.-
Mitchell sihed. ,ThereAs a reat deal of crap "ein tal$ed a"out forcin planes down. What if they refuse to "e forced down@-
,Then shoot it down.-
,With Lord WorthAs dauhters a"oard@ Lord Worth wouldnAt "e very pleased. /either would you. Thin$ of all the cops that would
"e out of a (o".-
,Lord WorthAs dauhtersF-
,ItAs all this routine police wor$,- Roomer said. ,Atrophies the "rain. Who the hell do you thin$ that helicopter has one to pic$
Once clear of the heliport, Roomer e&tended an arm. , AThataway,A the man said. AThatawayA is northwest. The Wyanee 0wamp.-
,9ven if theyAd ta$en off to the southeast theyAd still have finished up in Wyanee.- Mitchell pulled up "y a pu"lic "ooth. ,'ow are
you with Mc?arrityAs voice@- Roomer was an accomplished mimic.
,ItAs not the voice thatAs hard. ItAs the thouht processes. Til ive it a try.- 'e didnAt say what he was oin to try "ecause he didnAt
have to. 'e left for the "ooth and was "ac$ inside two minutes.
,5amp"ell filed a fliht plan for the 0eawitch-
,Any )uestions as$ed@-
,/ot really. Told them that some fool had made a mista$e. Anyone who $nows Mc?arrity would $now who the fool was that
made the mista$e.-
Mitchell started the enine, then switched off as the phone ran. Mitchell lifted the receiver.
,Dim here. Tried to rin you a couple of times, fifteen minutes ao, five minutes ao.-
,*iures. Out of the car "oth times. More "ad news@-
,/ot unless you consider Lord Worth "ad news. Touchdown in fifteen minutes.-
,We ot time.-
,0ays heAs comin up to the house.-
,0ent for the Rolls@-
,/o. 6ro"a"ly wants to tal$ private. And it loo$s as if heAs plannin to stay away some time. Ordered a "a pac$ed for a wee$.-
,0even white suits.- Mitchell hun up.
Roomer said. ,Loo$s as if weAre oin to have to do some "a!pac$in ourselves.- Mitchell nodded and started up aain.
Lord Worth was loo$in his old self when he settled in the "ac$ seat of their car. /ot )uite radiatin his old "onhomie, to "e sure,
"ut calm and lucid and, to all appearances, rela&ed. 'e told of his success in Washinton, for which he was duly and politely
conratulated. Roomer then told him in detail what had happened in his a"sence. this time the a"sence of conratulations was
,YouAve notified 5ommander Larsen of your suspicions, of course@-
,/ot suspicions,- Mitchell said. ,5ertainties. And thereAs no Aof courseA and no, we didnAt notify him. Tm primarily responsi"le for
,Ta$in the law into your own hands, eh@ Mind tellin me why@G
,YouAre the person who $nows Larsen "est. You $now how possessive he is a"out the 0ea!witch. You yourself have told us a"out
his aner and violence. 8o you thin$ a man li$e that, duly forewarned, wouldnAt have a very warm reception waitin for the
$idnapers@ 0tray "ullets, ricochetin "ullets, are no respecter of persons, Lord Worth. You want a dauhter crippled for life@ We
prefer that the $idnapers esta"lish a "loodless "eachhead.-
,Well, all riht.- The words came rudinly. ,:ut from now on $eep me fully informed of your intentions and decisions.- Lord
Worth, Roomer noted with sardonic amusement, had no intention of dispensin with their unpaid services. ,:ut no more ta$in the
law into your own hands, do you hear@-
Mitchell stopped car and enine. RoomerAs amusement chaned to apprehension. Mitchell twisted in his seat and loo$ed at Lord
Worth in cool speculation.
,YouAre a fine one to tal$.- ,What do you mean, sir@- There were fifteen enerations of hihland aristocracy in the lacial
Mitchell remained unmoved. ,*or ta$in the law into your own hands "y "rea$in into and ro""in that arsenal last niht. If
Roomer and I were decent citi#ens and law!a"idin detectives, weAd have had you "ehind "ars last niht. /ot even a "illionaire can
et away with that sort of thin, especially when it involves the assault and loc$in up of the arsenal uards. Dohn and I were there.-
Mitchell was not a"ove a little prevarication when the need arose.
,You were there.- Most rarely for him, Lord Worth was at a loss for words. 'e recovered )uic$ly. ,:ut 7 wasnAt there,-
,We $now that. We also $now you sanctioned the "rea$!in. Ordered it, rather.-
,:alderdash. And if you actually witnessed this, why did you not stop it@-
,Dohn and I ta$e our chances. :ut not aainst nine men armed with machine uns.-
This ave Lord Worth pause. They had their fiures and facts riht. 5learly they had "een there. 'e said. ,0upposin any of this
rimarole were true, how in ?odAs name do you tie me up with it@-
,/ow youAre "ein a fool. We were also at your heliport. We saw the truc$ arrive. We saw nine men unload a fairly massive
)uantity of more than fairly lethal weaponry into one helicopter. Then a man drove the truc$ away+an army truc$, of course+"ac$
to the arsenal from where it had "een stolen. The other eiht men "oarded another helicopter. Then a mini"us arrived, carryin
twelve heavily armed thus who (oined the other eiht. Dohn and I reconi#ed no fewer than five of them+two of them weAve
personally put "ehind "ars.- Roomer loo$ed at him admirinly, "ut Mitchell wasnAt loo$in at Roomer, he was loo$in at Lord
Worth, and "oth voice and tone were devoid of any form of encouraement. ,It came as a shoc$ to "oth of us to find that Lord Worth
was consortin with common criminals. YouAre sweatin a little, Lord Worth. Why are you sweatin@A=
Lord Worth didnAt enlihten them as to why he was sweatin.
,And then, of course, you came alon in the Rolls. One of the very "est se)uences we ot on our infrared movie camera last
niht.- Roomer "lin$ed, "ut that Lord Worth "elieved Mitchell Roomer did not for a moment dou"t. everythin that Mitchell had
said, even the sliht em"ellishments, Lord Worth $new or "elieved to "e true, so he had no reason to dou"t the truth of the camera
,We actually considered phonin the nearest army 'O and havin them send alon some armored cars and a trailered tan$. 9ven
your thus wouldnAt have stood a chance. We thouht of oin down the road, "loc$in the Rolls and holdin you until the army
arrived+it was perfectly o"vious that the helicopters had no intention of leavin until you turned up. Once captured, ?od $nows
how many of them+especially those who had already served prison terms+would have (umped at the chance of turnin stateAs
evidence and incriminatin you. ItAs )uite true, you $now+there is no honor amon thieves.- If Lord Worth had any o"(ections to
"ein cateori#ed as a thief, it didnAt reister in his face. ,:ut after the standard "it of soul!searchin we decided aainst it.-
,Why, in ?odAs name@-
,0o you admit it.- Mitchell sihed. ,Why couldnAt you do that at the "einnin and save me all this trou"le@-
,Why@- Lord Worth repeated his )uestion.
It was Roomer who answered. ,6artly "ecause even thouh youAre a confessed law"rea$er, we still have a reard for you. :ut
mainly "ecause w.e didnAt want to see your dauhters confronted with seein their father "ehind "ars. In hindsiht, of course, weAre
lad we didnAt. In comparison with the $idnapin of your dauhters, your own capers outside the law fade into a peccadillo.-
Mitchell started the motor aain and said. ,It is understood that there will "e no more peccadilloes. It is also understood that there
will "e no more tal$ a"out our ta$in the law into our own hands.-
Lord Worth lay "ac$ in his study armchair, 'is second "randy tasted (ust as ood as his first+it seemed to "e his day for "randies.
'e hadnAt spo$en a word for the rest of the trip+ which, fortunately, had "een mercifully short, for Lord Worth had felt urently in
need of restoratives. /ot for the first time, he found himself silently "lessin his $idnapped dauhters.
'e cleared his throat and said. ,I assume you are still willin to come out to the ri with me@-
Mitchell contemplated his lass. ,We never e&pressed our intentions one way or another a"out that. :ut I suppose someone has to
loo$ after you and your dauhters.-
Lord Worth frowned. There had, he felt, "een more than a su"tle chane in their relationship. 6erhaps the esta"lishment of an
employer!employee status would help redress the "alance. 'e said. ,I feel itAs time we put your co!operation on a "usinessli$e
footin. I propose to retain you in your professional capacities as investiators+in other words, "ecome your client. I shall not
)ui""le at your demanded fees.- 'e had no sooner finished than he reali#ed that he had made a mista$e.
RoomerAs voice was coldly unenthusiastic. ,Money doesnAt "uy everythin, Lord Worth.
6articularly, it doesnAt "uy us. We have no intention of "ein shac$led, of havin our freedom of action curtailed. And as far as the
fees and your s$y;the!limit implication are concerned, the hell with it. 'ow often do we have to tell you we donAt trade money for
your dauhters= lives@-
Lord Worth didnAt even "other frownin. The chane in relationship, he reflected sadly, had "een even reater than he had
reali#ed. ,As you will. One assumes that you will "e suita"ly disuised@-
Mitchell said. ,Why@-
Lord Worth was impatient. ,You said you saw some e&!convicts "oardin the helicopter. 6eople you reconi#ed. TheyAll surely
reconi#e you@-
,We never saw Aem "efore in our lives.-
Lord Worth was properly shoc$ed. ,:ut you told me+-
,You told us "i "lac$ lies. WhatAs a little white lie@ WeAll o a"oard as+say+your technoloical advisers. ?eoloists,
seismoloists+ itAs all the same to us, we $now nothin a"out eoloy or seismoloy. All we need are "usiness suits, horn!rimmed
lasses+for the studious loo$+and "riefcases.- 'e paused. ,And weAll also need a doctor, with full medical $it and a lare supply
of "andaes.-
,A doctor@-
,*or e&tractin "ullets, sewin up unshot wounds. Or are you naive enouh to "elieve that no shot will "e fired in aner a"oard
the witch@-
,I a"hor violence.-
,0ure. ThatAs why you sent twenty heavily armed thus out to the 0eawitch durin the niht@ *ine, so you a"hor violence. Others
welcome it. 5an you find us a doctor@-
,8o#ens of them. The averae doctor herea"outs rates his scannin of I!rays a very poor second to the scannin of his "an$
"alances. I $now the man. ?reenshaw. After seven years in ;ietnam, he should fill your "ill.-
Roomer said. ,And as$ him to "rin alon two spare white hospital coats.- ,Why@- Mitchell said. ,Want to loo$ scientific, donAt
you@- Lord Worth pic$ed up the phone, made the arranements, replaced the instrument and said. ,You must e&cuse me. I have
some private calls to ma$e from the radio room.- Lord WorthAs sole reason for returnin to his house was to contact his inside man,
5orral, and have him, without incriminatin himself, inform :enson, who had hosted the La$e Tahoe meetin, that the overnment
intended to "last out of the water any forein naval ships that approached the 0eawitch. An e&aeration "ut, Lord Worth
thouht, a pardona"le one. 8espite the secretaryAs promise, Lord Worth placed more faith in his direct approach.
Mitchell said. ,Which one of us do you want to o with you@-
,What do you mean@ A6rivate,A I said.- 'is face dar$ened in aner. ,Am I to "e ordered around in my own house, supervised as if
IAm an irresponsi"le child@-
,You "ehaved responsi"ly last niht@ Loo$, Lord Worth, if you donAt want either of us around, then itAs o"vious you want to say
somethin that you donAt want us to hear.- Mitchell ave him a speculative loo$. ,I donAt li$e that. YouAre either up to somethin we
wouldnAt li$e, somethin shady may"e, or itAs a vote of no confidence in us.-
,ItAs a personal and hihly important "usiness call. I donAt see why you should "e privy to my "usiness affairs.-
Roomer said. ,I aree. :ut it so happens that we donAt thin$ it is a "usiness call, that "usiness would "e the last thin in your mind
riht now.- :oth Mitchell and Roomer stood up. ,?ive our reards, to the irls+if you ever find them.-
,:lac$mailF 8amned "lac$mailF- Lord Worth rapidly weihed the importance of his call to 5orral compared to the importance of
havin Mitchell and Roomer around. It too$ all of two seconds to ma$e up his mind, and 5orral was clear out of siht at the wire.
'e was sure that the two men were "luffin, "ut there was no way he could call their "luff, for that was the one sure way of
provo$in a enuine wal$out Lord Worth put on his stony face. ,I suppose I have no option other than to accede to your threats. I
suest you o and pac$ your "as and IAll pic$ you up in the Rolls.-
Mitchell said. ,6ac$in will ta$e some time. I thin$ it would "e more polite if we wait here until youAre ready.-
Lord Worth mentally nashed his teeth. ,You thin$ IAd head for a telephone the moment your "ac$s are turned@-
Mitchell smiled, ,*unny the same thouht should occur to the three of us at the same instant, isnAt it@-
Chapter 7
5OMMA/89R Larsen and 0coffield o"served the approach of the /orth 'udson helicopter with surprise "ut without undue
concern. Lord Worth customarily ave advance warnin of his arrival "ut could occasionally "e foretful on this point. In any event
it was his helicopter and (ust a"out his e&pected time of arrival. They sauntered across the platform and arrived at the northeast
helipad (ust as the helicopter touched down.
0urprisinly, no one emered immediately from the machine. Larsen and 0coffield loo$ed at each other in some perple&ity, a
perple&ity that was considera"ly deepened when the disem"ar$ation door slid "ac$ and 8urand appeared in the doorway with a
machine pistol cradled in his hands. Dust "ehind him stood a similarly e)uipped henchman. *rom their shadowed position it was
impossi"le for them to "e o"served "y any of the ri duty crew.
8urand said. ,Larsen and 0coffield@ If you are carryin weapons, please donAt "e so foolish as to try to use them.- The "oardin
steps swun down. ,5ome and (oin us.-
The two men had no option. Once a"oard, without ta$in his eyes off them, 8urand said. ,Howens$i, Rindler+see if theyAre
:oth Larsen and 0coffield carried automatics "ut seemed )uite indifferent to "ein deprived of them. their attention was directed
e&clusively to the presence of Lord WorthAs dauhters.
Marina smiled, al"eit a trifle wanly. ,We could have met under happier circumstances, 5ommander.-
Larsen nodded. ,Your $idnapers. This can carry a death sentence.- 'e loo$ed at 5amp"ell. ,Why did you fly those criminals out
,:ecause I et very cowardly when I have a pistol "arrel stuc$ in the "ac$ of my nec$ all the way from ta$eoff to touchdown.-
5amp"ell spo$e with a certain (ustifia"le "itterness.
Larsen loo$ed at Melinda. ,'ave you "een mistreated in any way@-
,And they wonAt "e,- 8urand said. ,<nless, of course, you refuse to do as we tell you.-
,What does that mean@-
,You close down the 5hristmas tree.- This meant closin off all the oil supplies from the ocean floor.
,IAll "e damned if I do.- LarsenAs dar$ piratical face was suffused with fury. 'ere, 8urand reali#ed, was a man who, even without
arms, could "e hihly danerous. 'e lanced "riefly at Rindler, who struc$ Larsen on the "ac$ of the nec$ with his machine pistol, a
"low calculated to da#e "ut not $noc$ out. When LarsenAs head had cleared he found that he had handcuffs and shac$les around
wrists and an$les. 'is attention then focused on a pair of leamin stainless!steel medical cutters of the type favored "y the surical
fraternity for snippin throuh ri"s. The handles were in 8urandAs firm rip. the unpleasant operatin end was closed lihtly round
the little finer of MelindaAs riht hand.
8urand said. ,Lord Worth isnAt oin to li$e you too much for this, Larsen.-
Larsen, apparently, was of the same opinion. ,All riht, ta$e those damned pliers away and et these "racelets off. IAll close down
your damned 5hristmas tree.-
,And *ll come with you (ust to see that you really do turn it off. /ot that I would reconi#e one if I saw it, "ut I do $now that
there are such thins as flow aues. Til "e carryin a wal$ie tal$ie with me. Rindler here has another. *< $eep in constant contact
with him. If anythin should happen to me+- 8urand loo$ed considerinly at the medical cutters, then handed them to 'effer, the
fifth man in his team. 'e told 5amp"ell to put his arms "ehind his seat "ac$ and handcuffed his wrists.
,8onAt miss much, do you@- LarsenAs voice was sour.
,You $now how it is. 0o many villains around these days. 5ome on.-
The two men wal$ed across the platform in the direction of the drillin ri. After only a few paces 8urand stopped and loo$ed
around him admirinly.
,Well, well, now. 8ual!purpose antiaircraft uns. 6iles of depth chares. YouAd almost thin$ youAre prepared to withstand a siee.
8ear me, dear me. *ederal offense you $now. Lord Worth, even with the millions he can pay for lawyers, can et at least ten years in
the pen for this.-
,WhatAre you tal$in a"out@-
,'ardly standard e)uipment a"oard an oil ri. Ill "et it wasnAt here twenty!four hours ao. *ll "et it was inside the Mississippi
naval arsenal that was "ro$en into last niht. The ?overnment ta$es a dim view of people who steal military e)uipment. And, of
course, you ot to have specialists a"oard whoAre s$illed at handlin stuff li$e that, and thatAs hardly part of the "asic trainin of oil!
ri crews. I wonder if those crews are also carryin special e)uipment+li$e, for instance, what was stolen from a *lorida arsenal
last niht. I mean, two unrelated arsenal "rea$!ins in the same niht is too much coincidence. Twenty years in prison, with no chance
of parole for you too, for aidin and a"ettin. And people call us criminals.-
Larsen had a few choice o"servations to ma$e in return, none of which would have received the approval of even the most tolerant
"oard of censors.
The 5hristmas tree was duly neutrali#ed. The pressure aues reistered #ero. 8urand turned his attention to the Roomer, carryin
out its short and wearisome patrol "etween the ri and the hue floatin oil tan$. ,WhatAs our friend up to@-
,9ven a landlu""er li$e you ouht to "e a"le to uess. 'eAs patrollin the pipeline.-
,What the hell for@ You could replace a cut line in a day. What would that et any"ody@ ItAs cra#y.-
,You have to use cra#y methods to deal with cra#y people. *rom all accounts, Lord WorthAs enemies should "e loc$ed up for their
own ood. *or every"odyAs ood.-
,WorthAs "and of cutthroats a"oard this ri+ whoAs their leader@-
,?iuseppe 6alermo.G
,That mo"sterF 0o the no"le Lord, alon with his rand larceny, is an associate of convicted felons.-
,You $now him, then@-
,Yeah.- 8urand saw no point in ela"oratin upon the fact that he and 6alermo had spent two prison terms toether. ,I want to tal$
to him.-
The tal$ was "rief and one!sided. 8urand said. ,WeAve ot Lord WorthAs dauhters prisoner. WeAre oin to "rin them toward the
livin )uarters here, "ut we donAt want you ta$in our two aces away from us. YouAll stay inside in your )uarters. If you donAt youAre
onna hear a lot of screamin and see pieces of finers or ears dropped throuh your windows. I hope you "elieve me.-
6alermo "elieved him. 6alermo had a reputation for ruthlessness that matched 8urandAs, "ut it couldnAt "ein to match 8urandAs
unholy (oy in sadism. 8urand was perfectly capa"le of not only doin what he threatened "ut of derivin immense satisfaction in so
6alermo returned to his Oriental )uarters. 8urand called up Rindler on the wal$ie!tal$ie and told them all to come across,
includin 5amp"ell, the pilot. 5amp"ell was touh and resourceful and it was (ust possi"le that, "y standin up, he could slip his
manacled arms over the "ac$ of his seat, step throuh them and ta$e off. Whether he would have enouh fuel for the return fliht
would "e a pro"lem for him, even thouh he would almost certainly head not for *lorida "ut for the nearest spot on the mainland,
which would "e due south of /ew Orleans.
As the prisoners and uards disem"ar$ed from the helicopter 8urand said. ,Accommodations@-
,6lenty. There are spare rooms in the oriental )uarters. ThereAs Lord WorthAs private suite.-
,What do you mean@ This isnAt a prison.-
,0torerooms@ Ones that can "e loc$ed from the outside@-
8urand loo$ed at Larsen considerinly. ,YouAre "ein very co!operative, Larsen. Your reputation says otherwise.-
,Two minutesA wal$ around and you could confirm all IAm sayin for yourself.-
,YouAd li$e to $ill me, wouldnAt you, Larsen@-
,When the time is ripe, yes. :ut itAs not yet ripe.-
,9ven so.- 8urand produced a pistol. ,0tay a"out ten feet away. You miht "e tempted to ra" me and try to ma$e the men let the
irls o. A temptin thouht, no@-
Larsen loo$ed at him yearninly and said nothin.
The irls, the pilots and their four escorts arrived. 8urand said. ,Well, now, we otta find some suita"le overniht accommodation
for you.- 'e led the way to the first of several storehouses and opened the door to reveal a room pac$ed roof!hih with canned
oods. 'e shoved 5amp"ell inside, loc$ed the door and poc$eted the $ey. The ne&t storehouse contained coils of rope, a powerful
smell of crude oil and an active, scuttlin population of those indestructi"le creatures, coc$roaches. 8urand said to the two irls.
The irls too$ one shudderin loo$, then turned away. Marina said. ,We will not o inside that disustin place.-
Howens$i said in a ently chidin voice which accorded ill with the 5olt he held in his hand. ,8o you $now what this is@-
Rindler had a similar weapon trained on Melinda.
:oth irls lanced "riefly at each other and then, in what was o"viously a prepared and rehearsed movement, wal$ed toward the
men with the uns, sei#ed the "arrels with their riht hands and hoo$ed their riht thum"s "ehind their trier forefiners, pullin
the uns hard aainst themselves.
,Desus 5hristF- 8urand was "adly sha$en% he had run up aainst many situations in his life, "ut this one lay far "eyond his most
remote conception. ,You tryin to commit suicide@-
Melinda said. ,6recisely.- 'er eyes never left RindlerAs. ,YouAre lower than those horri"le coc$roaches in there. You are vermin
who are tryin to destroy our father. With us dead, you wonAt have a sinle card left to play.-
,YouAre cra#yF 0imple plain cra#yFG
,May"e,- Marina said. ,:ut for cra#y people our loic is pretty ood. With nothin to tie his hands you can imaine how our
father will react+!especially since he and everyone else will "elieve that you murdered us. 'e wonAt have to o to the law, of course
+you simply have no idea what power a few "illion dollars can "rin to "ear. 'eAll destroy you and all your people to the last man.-
0he loo$ed at Howens$i with contempt. ,Why donAt you press the trier@ /o@ Then let o your un.- Howens$i released his un
and Rindler did the same, and the irls dropped them to the dec$.
Melinda said. ,My sister and I are ta$in a wal$. We will return when you have )uarters prepared fittin for Lord WorthAs
8urandAs face had definitely lost color and his voice was hoarse and not )uite steady as he tried to reain a measure of authority.
,0o ta$e your wal$. 'effer, o with them. Any trou"le, shoot them in the les.-
Marina stooped, pic$ed up Howens$iAs 5olt, wal$ed up to 'effer and rammed the mu##le into his left eye. 'effer recoiled, ho
wrin in aony. Marina said. ,*air deal. You shoot me throuh the le+now, I mean+and Til "low your "rains out.-
,?odAs sa$eF- 8urandAs voice was almost implorin. 'e was one step removed from wrinin his hands. ,0ome"odyAs ot to o
with you. If youAre out there on your own and in no daner, 6alermoAs men will cut us to pieces.-
,What a perfectly splendid idea.- Marina lowered the pistol and loo$ed in distaste at 'effer, a rodent!faced creature of
indeterminate ae and nationality. ,We see your point. :ut this+this animal is not to approach within ten yards of us at any time.
That is understood@-
,Yes, yes, of course.- If they as$ed him for the moon, 8urand would have somehow levitated himself and ot it for them. 'avin
overwhelminly displayed what it was to have seventeen enerations of hihland aristocratic ancestry "ehind them, the two irls
wal$ed away toward one of the trianular perimeters. It was fully twenty yards "efore they "oth "ean, at the same instant, to
trem"le violently. Once started, they could not control the trem"lin and they prayed that the followin 'effer could not notice it.
Marina!whispered sha$ily. ,Would you do that aain@-
,/ever, never, never. *d die.-
,I thin$ we came pretty close to it. 8o you thin$ that Michael and Dohn would "e sha$in li$e us after an e&perience li$e that@-
,/o. If thereAs any truth in what 8addy hints, theyAd already "e plannin what to do ne&t. And 8urand and his o"no&ious friends
wouldnAt "e sha$in either. 8ead men donAt sha$e very much.-
MarinaAs trem"lin turned into a enuine shiver. ,I only wish to ?od they were here riht now.-
They stopped ten feet short of the platform perimeter. /either irl had a head for heihts. They turned and loo$ed northeastward
as the distant and muted roar of an aircraft enine came to their ears.
8urand and Larsen heard it at the same time. They could see nothin "ecause dus$ had already fallen, "ut neither man had any
dou"t as to the identity of the approachin helicopter and its occupants. With some satisfaction 8urand said. ,5ompany. This has to
"e Lord Worth. Where will they land@-
,The southeast helipad.-
8urand lanced across the platform to where the two irls were standin with 'effer, un carried loosely in his riht hand, less
than the reulation ten yards away. 0atisfied, 8urand pic$ed up his machine pistol and said. ,LetAs o and welcome his lordship
a"oard. Aaron, come with us.-
Larsen said. ,YouAd "etter hope Lord Worth proves more tracta"le than his dauhters.-
,What do you mean@-
Larsen smiled in sardonic satisfaction. ,You cauht a couple of tiresses "y the tails, didnAt you@-
8urand scowled and wal$ed away, followed "y Larsen and Aaron, the latter armed similarly to 8urand. They reached the
southeast helipad (ust as the /orth 'udson helicopter touched down. Lord Worth himself was the first out. 'e stood at the foot of the
steps and stared in dis"elief at the armed men. 'e said to Larsen. ,What in ?odAs name oes on here@-
8urand said. ,Welcome a"oard the 0eawitch, Lord Worth. You can reard me as your host and yourself as a uest+an honored
uest, of course. There has "een a sliht chane of ownership.-
Tm afraid that this man here+his name is 8urand and I assume that he is one of 5ron$iteAs lieutenants+-
,5ron$iteF- 8urand was (arred. ,What do you $now a"out 5ron$ite@-
,I can hardly conratulate him on his choice of lieutenants.- When Lord Worth poured on his icy contempt he used a $in!si#ed
trowel. ,8o you thin$ we are such fools as not to $now who your employer is@ /ot that 5ron$ite has lon to live. /or you, either,
for that matter.- 8urand stirred uneasily+Lord Worth sounded far too much li$e his dauhters for his peace of mind. Lord Worth
directed his attention to Larsen. ,One assumes that this ruffian arrived with accomplices. 'ow many@-
,*ourF :ut with 6alermo and his men you have over twentyF 'ow is it possi"le+-
8urand was "ac$ on "alance. When he spo$e it was with a sliht, if loical, smuness. ,We have somethin that Larsen hasnAt. We
have your dauhters.-
What was apparently pure shoc$ rendered Lord Worth temporarily speechless% then in a hoarse voice he said. ,?reat ?od
almihtyF My dauhtersF- Lord Worth could have had his Oscar (ust for the as$in. ,You+you are the $idnaper@-
,*ortunes of war, sir.- It said much for Lord WorthAs aristocratic manetism that even the most villainous eventually addressed
him in respectful tones. ,/ow, if we could see the rest of the passeners.-
Mitchell and Roomer descended. In tan alpaca suits and horn!rimmed lasses they were innocu!ousness personified. Lord Worth
said. ,Mitchell and Roomer. 0cientists+eoloists and seismoloists.- 'e turned to Mitchell and Roomer and said dully. ,TheyAre
holdin my dauhters captive a"oard the 0eawitch.-
,?ood ?odF- Mitchell was properly shoc$ed. ,:ut surely this is the last place+-
,Of course. The une&pected, $eepin a couple of steps ahead of the opposition. WhatAd you come here for@-
,To find new sources of oil. We have a perfectly e)uipped la"oratory here+-
,You could have saved your time. 5an we search your "a and your friendAs@-
,'ave I any choice@-
,?o ahead.-
Aaron carried out a )uic$ e&amination of MitchellAs "a. ,5lothes. 0ome scientific "oo$s and scientific instruments. Is all.-
8r. ?reenshaw clam"ered down the ladder, reached up and relieved the pilot of various "as and "o&es. 8urand loo$ed at the door
and said. ,Who the hell is he@-
,8r. ?reenshaw,- Lord Worth said. ,A hihly respected doctor and sureon. We did e&pect a certain amount of violence a"oard
the 0eawitch. We came prepared. We do have a dispensary and small sic$ "ay here.-
,Another wasted trip. We hold all the cards, and violence is the last thin we e&pect. WeAll e&amine your e)uipment too, 8octor.-
,If you wish. As a doctor, I deal in life and not in death. I have no concealed weapons. The medical code for"ids it.- ?reenshaw
sihed. ,6lease search "ut do not destroy.-
8urand pulled out his wal$ie!tal$ie. ,0end one of 6alermoAs men across here with an electric truc$+thereAs )uite a "it of
e)uipment to pic$ up.- 'e replaced his wal$ie!tal$ie and loo$ed at Mitchell. ,Your hands are sha$in. Why@-
,IAm a man of peace,- Mitchell said. 'e crossed his hands "ehind his "ac$ to conceal the tremor.
Roomer, the only man to reconi#e the sinals, lic$ed his lips and loo$ed at Mitchell in e&aerated nervous apprehension.
8urand said. ,Another hero. I hate cowards.-
Mitchell "rouht his hands in front of him. The tremor was still there. 8urand stepped forward, his riht hand swinin "ac$ as if
to stri$e Mitchell open!handed, then let his hand fall in disust, which was, unwittinly, the wisest thin he could have done.
8urandAs mind was incapa"le of pic$in up any psychic sinals. had it "een so attuned, he could not have failed to hear the "lac$
wins of the "ird of death flappin a"ove his head.
The only person who derived any satisfaction, carefully concealed, from this vinette, was Lar!sen. Althouh he had tal$ed to
Mitchell on the telephone he had never met him+"ut he had heard a reat deal a"out him from Lord Worth, more than enouh to
ma$e him reali#e that Mitchell would have reduced 8urand to mincemeat sooner than "ac$ down "efore him. Mitchell had ta$en
only seconds to esta"lish the role he wished to esta"lish+that of the cowardly nonentity who could "e safely and contemptuously
inored. Larsen, who was no mean hand at ta$in care of people himself, felt stranely comforted.
Lord Worth said. ,May I see my dauhters@-
8urand considered, then nodded. ,0earch him, Aaron.-
Aaron, carefully avoidin Lord WorthAs "asilis$ lare of icy outrae, duly searched. ,'eAs clean, Mr. 8urand.-
,Across there.- 8urand pointed throuh the atherin loom. ,:y the side of the platform.-
Lord Worth wal$ed off without a word. The others made their way toward the accommodation )uarters. As Lord Worth
approached his dauhters, 'effer "arred his way.
,Where do you thin$ youAre oin, mister@-
,Lord Worth to you, peasant.-
'effer pulled out his wal$ie!tal$ie. ,Mr. 8urand@ ThereAs a uy here+-
8urandAs voice crac$led over the receiver. ,ThatAs Lord Worth. 'eAs "een searched and heAs ot my permission to spea$ to his
Lord Worth pluc$ed the wal$ie!tal$ie from 'effer. ,And would you please instruct this individual to remain outside listenin
,You heard, 'effer.- The wal$ie!tal$ie went dead.
The reunion "etween father and dauhters was a tearful and impassioned one, at least on the dauhters= side. Lord Worth was all
that a dotin parent reunited with his $idnaped children should have "een, "ut his effusiveness was $ept well under control. Marina
was the first to notice this.
,ArenAt you lad to see us aain, 8addy@-
Lord Worth hued them "oth and said simply. ,You two are my whole life. If you donAt $now that "y this time, you will never
$now it.-
,YouAve never said that "efore.- 9ven in the deepenin dus$ it was possi"le to see the sheen of tears in MelindaAs eyes.
,I did not thin$ it necessary. I thouht you always $new. 6erhaps IAm a remiss parent, perhaps still too much the reserved
hihlander. :ut all my "illions arenAt worth a loc$ of your "lac$ hair, Marina, or a loc$ of your red hair, Me!linda.-
,Titian, 8addy, titian. 'ow often must I tell you@- Melinda was openly cryin now.
It was Marina, always the more shrewd and perceptive of the two, who put her finer on it. ,You arenAt surprised to see us, 8addy,
are you@ You $new we were here.-
,Of course I $new.-
,My aents,- Lord Worth said loftily, ,lie thic$ upon the round.-
,And what is oin to happen now@-
Lord Worth was fran$. ,IAm damned if I $now.-
,We saw three other men come off the helicopter. 8idnAt reconi#e them+ettin too dar$.-
,One was a 8r. ?reenshaw. 9&cellent sureon.-
Melinda said. ,What do you want a sureon for@-
,8onAt "e silly. What does anyone want a sureon for@ You thin$ weAre oin to hand over the 0eawitch on a platter@!-
,And the other two@-
,You donAt $now them. YouAve never heard of them. And if you do meet them you will ive no indication that you reconi#e them
or have ever seen them "efore.-
Marina said. ,Michael and Dohn.-
,Yes. Remem"er+youAve never seen them "efore.-
,WeAll remem"er,- the irls said almost in chorus. Their faces were transformed. Marina said. ,:ut theyAll "e in reat daner. Why
are they here@-
,0omethin to do, I understand, with then!stated intent of ta$in you "ac$ home.-
,'ow!are they oin to do that@-
Aain Lord Worth was fran$. ,I donAt $now. ' they $now, they wouldnAt tell me. TheyAve "ecome "ossy, very "ossy. Watch me
li$e a haw$. WonAt even let me near my own "lasted phone.- The irls refrained from smilin, principally "ecause Lord Worth didnAt
seem particularly pertur"ed. ,Mitchell, especially, seems in a very tetchy mood.- Lord Worth spo$e with some relish. ,/ear as a
whis$er $illed 8urand inside the first minute. Would have, too, if you werenAt "ein held hostae. Well, letAs o to my suite. IAve "een
to Washinton and "ac$. Lon tirin day. I need refreshment.-
8urand went into the radio room, told the reular operator that his services would not "e re)uired until further notice and that he
was to return to his )uarters and remain there. The operator left. 8urand, himself an e&pert radio operator, raised the ?eoria within
a minute and was spea$in to 5ron$ite thirty seconds later.
,9verythin under control on the 0eawitch. We have the two irls here and Lord Worth himself.-
,9&cellent.- 5ron$ite was pleased. 9verythin was oin his way, "ut, then, he had e&pected nothin else. ,Lord Worth "rin
anyone with him@-
,The pilot and three other people. A doctor+ sureon, he says, and he seems on the level. Worth seems to have e&pected some
"lood to "e spilled. IAll chec$ his credentials in *lorida in a few minutes. Also, two technicians+seismoloists, or somethin li$e
them. ?enuine and harmless+the siht of a machine pistol ives them 0t. ;irusAs 8ance. TheyAre unarmed.-
,0o no worries@-
,Well, three. Worth has a s)uad of a"out twenty men a"oard. They loo$ li$e trained $illers and IAm pretty sure theyAre all e&!
military. They have to "e "ecause of my second worry+Worth has eiht dual!purpose antiaircraft uns "olted to the platform.-
,The hell he hasF-
,Yeah+also piles of mines on the sides of the platform. /ow we $now who heisted the Mississippi naval arsenal last niht. And
the third pro"lem is that weAre far too thin on the round. ThereAs only me and four others to watch every"ody. 0ome of us have to
sleep sometimes. I need reinforcements and I need Aem fast.-
,YouAll have over twenty arrivin at dawn tomorrow mornin. The relief ri crew are due in then. A man named ?reson+youAll
reconi#e him "y the "iest red "eard you ever saw+will "e in chare.-
,I canAt wait that lon. I need reinforcements now. You have your chopper on the ?eoria.-
,What do you thin$ I carry on the ?eoria, an army of reinforcements@- 5ron$ite paused, then went on reluctantly. ,I can spare
eiht men, no more.-
,They have radar a"oard.G
,0o they have radar. What difference does it ma$e@ YouAre hi command.-
,Yeah, Mr. 5ron$ite. :ut your own olden rule+never ta$e a chance.-
,When you hear our helicopter has ta$en off, neutrali#e it-
,8estroy the radar ca"in@-
,/o. WeAre oin to want to use it when weAve completely ta$en over. The scanner will "e on top of the drillin derric$. Riht@-
,ItAs a simple mechanical (o" to stop it from turnin. All you need is someone with a wrench and a head for heihts. /ow tell me
e&actly where WorthAs men are )uartered. ?reson will need this information.-
8urand told him what he wanted to $now and hun up.
The dispensary!sic$ "ay and the la"oratory were ne&t to each other. Mitchell and Roomer were helpin 8r. ?reenshaw unpac$ his
very considera"le amount of medical e)uipment. They were, understanda"ly, not unuarded, "ut Aaron and his 0chmeisser were on
watch on the two outside doors, and Aaron was hardly in an alert or trier!ready state of mind. In fact, he rearded his viil as
"ein close to pointless. 'e had "een present when the three men disem"ar$ed from the helicopter and had formed the same opinion
of them as 8urand.
In the sic$ "ay 8r. ?reenshaw up!ended and removed the false "ottom of one of his medical supply "o&es. With a inerly and
patently nervous apprehension, he too$ out two "elt holsters, two 0mith V Wesson .E4s, two silencers and two spare maa#ines.
Wordlessly, Mitchell and Roomer "uc$led on the weaponry. 8r. ?reenshaw, a man, as they were discoverin, of a enuinely devout
turn of mind, said. ,I only hope no one discovers you wearin those pistols.-
Roomer said. ,We appreciate your concern, 8octor. :ut donAt worry a"out us.-
,I wasnAt worryin a"out you.- 8r. ?reenshaw assumed his most som"er e&pression. ,A ood 5hristian can also pray for the souls
of the unodly.-
A lon distance away the meetin of ten was aain assem"led at La$e Tahoe. At the former meetin the atmosphere had "een
hopeful, forceful and determined, the participants confident that thins would o their way, spuriously motivated "y their e&pressed
intent to avert a third world war. On this evenin the spirit+if that was the word+of the meetin had chaned a"out "y >43
derees. They were depressed, vacillatin, uncertain and wholly lac$in in confidence, especially in view of the fact that their
alleedly humanitarian attempts to prevent the out"rea$ of war seemed to "e havin precisely the opposite effect.
Aain, as it was his holiday home, :enson was hostin the meetin. :ut this time :enson was also undou"tedly the man in
chare. Openin the discussion, he said. ,?entlemen, we are in trou"le. /ot (ust simple, plain trou"le, "ut enormous trou"le that
could "rin us all down. It stems from two facts+we underestimated Lord WorthAs e&traordinary power and we overestimated
5ron$iteAs a"ility to handle the situation with a suita"le deree of discretion and tact. I admit I was responsi"le for introducin
5ron$ite to you, "ut on the other hand, you were unanimous in your "elief that 5ron$ite was the only man to handle the (o". And we
were not aware that 5ron$iteAs detestation of Lord Worth ran to the e&tent of a virulent and irresponsi"le hatred.
,I have friends in the 6entaon, not important ones "ut ones that matter. The 6entaon, normally, li$e any other department of
overnment, lea$s secrets li$e a "ro$en sieve. This time I had to pay twenty thousand dollars to a stenorapher and the same to a
cipher cler$ which, for a pair of comparatively lowly paid overnment employees, represents a pretty fair return for a few hoursA
,*irst, everythin is $nown a"out our previous meetin here, every word and sentiment that was e&pressed and the identities of all
of us.- :enson paused and loo$ed round the room, partly to allow time for the damnin enormity of this information to sin$ in,
partly to ma$e it clear that he e&pected to "e recompensed for his very considera"le outlay.
Mr. A, one of the vastly powerful Ara"ian ?ulf potentates, said. ,I thouht our security was one hundred per cent. 'ow could
anyone have $nown of our presence@-
,/o e&ternal aency was involved, I have ood friends in 5alifornia intellience. Their interest in us is #ero. /or was the *:I
involved. *or that to have happened weAd have had to commit some crime and then cross state lines.
/either of those have we done. And "efore we met last time I had an electronics e&pert in to chec$ not only this room "ut the
entire house for "us. There were none.-
Mr. A said. ATerhaps he planted a "u@-
,Impossi"le. Apart from the fact that heAs an old friend of immaculate reputation, I was with him all the time, a fact that did not
prevent me from callin in a second e&pert.-
6atinos, the ;ene#uelan, said. ,We ive you full mar$s for security. That leaves only one possi"ility. One of us here is a traitor.-
,I have no idea. We shall pro"a"ly never $now.-
Mr. A stro$ed his "eard. ,Mr. 5orral here lives very close to Lord Worth, no@-
5orral said. ,Than$ you very much.-
:enson said. ,Intellient men donAt ma$e so o"vious a lin$.-
,As you said at our previous meetin, *m the only person who had no declared interest in "ein here.- :orosoff seemed )uietly
rela&ed. ,I could "e your man.-
,ItAs a point, "ut one which I donAt accept. Whether you are here to stir up trou"le "etween the <nited 0tates and Russia may or
may not "e the case. Aain it comes down to the factor of intellience.- :enson was "ein disarminly fran$. ,You could "e, and
pro"a"ly are, a 0oviet aent :ut top aents are never cauht in the role of aent provocateur. I am not complimentin you on your
un)uestioned intellience. I prefer to rely on simple common sense.- :enson, who appeared to have developed a new maturity and
authority, loo$ed around the company. ,9very word spo$en here will dou"tless "e relayed to either Lord Worth or the 0tate
8epartment, It no loner matters. We are here to set riht any wrons for which we may have "een+however unwittinly, I may say
,We $now that a Russian missile naval craft and a Russian!"uilt 5u"an su"marine are closin in on the 0eawitch. We also $now
that a ;ene#uelan destroyer is doin the same. What you donAt $now is that countermeasures are "ein ta$en. My information+and
the source is impecca"le+is that Lord Worth was today closeted with :enton, the 0ecretary of 0tate, in Washinton. My further
information is that :enton was only partially convinced "y Lord WorthAs suspicions. 'e was, unfortunately, wholly convinced when
the news came throuh of 5ron!$iteAs irresponsi"le folly in $idnapin Lord WorthAs two dauhters. As a result, a <nited 0tates
cruiser and destroyer, "oth armed with the most sophisticated weaponry, have moved out into the ?ulf of Me&ico. An American
nuclear su"marine is already patrollin those waters. Another American vessel is already shadowin your destroyer, Mr. 6atinos.
your destroyer, with its vastly inferior detectin e)uipment, is wholly unaware of this. Additionally, at a Louisiana air "ase, a
s)uadron of supersonic fihter!"om"ers is on instant alert.
,The Americans are no loner in any mood to play around. My information is that they are prepared for a showdown and are
prepared for the eye"all!to!eye"all confrontation which Dohn Hennedy had with Hhrushchev over 5u"a. The Russians, clearly,
would never ris$ a local nuclear confrontation where the home!territory advantaes are so overwhelminly American. /either side
would dream of mountin a pre!emptive stri$e over the issue of a few pennies on a "arrel of oil. :ut if the hot line "etween
Washinton and Moscow "eins to "urn, national prestie will ma$e it difficult for either side to "ac$ down until they arrive at a
face!savin formula, which could ta$e )uite some time and would, much worse, enerate overwhelmin worldwide pu"licity. This
would inevita"ly involve us. 0o I would advise you, Mr. :orosoff and Mr. 6atinos, to call off your dos of war "efore that hot line
starts "urnin. That way, and only in that way, can we survive with our ood names left un!"esmirched. I "lame neither of you
entlemen. You may have iven the nod to 5ron$ite, "ut you did not rec$on on the possi"ility that 5ron$ite would carry matters
to such ridiculous lenths. 6lease, please "elieve me that the Americans will not hesitate to "last your ships out of the water.-
Oil ministers do not "ecome oil ministers "ecause they are mentally retarded. 6atinos smiled a smile of wry resination. ,I do not
relish the thouht of personal ruin. /or do I relish the thouht of "ecomin a scapeoat for my overnment.- 'e loo$ed across at
:orosoff. ,We call off the dos of war@-
:orosoff nodded. ,:ac$ to their $ennels and no alas. I wish to return to my Russia and this will ive me reat face, for they will
not have to lose face in the world.-
Mr. A leaned "ac$ in his chair. 'is relief was manifest. ,Well, that would seem to cover that.-
,It covers most of it,- :enson said. ,:ut not all. Another very unpleasant and potentially terrifyin crime occurred this afternoon.
I heard of it only an hour ao and it will "e the hottest topic in the nation toniht. I only hope to ?od that, althouh we were in no
way responsi"le for it, we wonAt "e implicated in it A place called /etley Rowan Arsenal was "ro$en into this afternoon. ItAs
supposed to "e (ust another arms depot insofar as the pu"lic is concerned+ and so, mainly, it is. :ut itAs also a T/W arsenal. T/W
means Atactical nuclear weapons.= Two of them were stolen in the "rea$!in and appear to have vanished without trace.-
,?od a"oveF- The e&pression and tone of the man from 'onduras accurately reflected the shoc$ed feelins of all around the ta"le.
,IAd "et on it. /o proof, naturally, "ut who the hell else@-
'enderson said. ,/o disrespect to Mr. :oro!soff here, "ut couldnAt the Russians, say, have "een see$in a prototype@-
:enson loo$ed as weary as his voice sounded. ,The Russians already have ?od $nows how many of those thins. ItAs pu"lic
$nowlede that they have thousands of them deployed alon the "order "etween the Warsaw pact and /ATO countries+many of
them, it is suspected, more sophisticated than ours. The Russians need our T/Ws the way they need "ows and arrows.- :orosoff,
despite the an&iety he shared with the others, permitted himself the host of a smile of complacency, ,5ron$ite. The manAs runnin
Mr. A said. ,You thin$ heAs so totally cra#y as to use a nuclear device aainst the 0eawitch@-
,I do not profess to understand the wor$ins of an o"viously diseased mind,- :enson said. ,'eAs capa"le of anythin.-
6atinos said. ,WhatAs this weapon li$e@-
,I donAt $now. I phoned the 6entaon, a very senior official there, "ut althouh heAs an old friend of mine, he refused to release
hihly classified information. All I $now is that it can "e used as a land!"ased time "om"+I suppose that ineludes the sea as well+
or as an aircraft "om". It can only "e used in a limited num"er of supersonic fihter!"om"ers, which will already, I suppose, "e
under the heaviest security uard ever, which would stri$e me as a superfluous precaution as there is no chance that 5ron$ite, even
with his o"viously wide rane of contacts, could $now anyone who could fly one of those planes.-
,0o what happens@-
,I thin$ weAd "etter consult an astroloer on that one. All I $now is that 5ron$ite has one star$ ravin mad.-
5ron$ite, a"oard the ?eoria, would have thouht the same of them. 'e had a (o" to do and he was doin it to the "est of his
a"ility. 'ad he $nown of the possi"le withdrawal of the warships that had sailed from 5u"a and ;ene#uela, he would not have "een
unduly concerned. 'e had had some vaue idea that they miht have "een useful to him in some way, "ut he had primarily wished to
have them as a cover and a smo$escreen. 5ron$iteAs vendetta aainst Lord Worth was a hihly personal and e&tremely vindictive one
and he wanted no other than himself to administer the coup de race. Retri"ution e&acted throuh the medium of other hands would
not do at all.
Meantime, he was well content. 'e was convinced that the 0eawitch was in his hands.
5ome the dawn it would "e dou"ly in his hands. 'e $new of their defenses and radar. The 0tarliht, under 9aston, was waitin
until full dar$ness "efore it moved hi for the initial attac$, and as rain had "een fallin steadily for some time now and the lowerin
s$y "lotted out the )uarter!moon, it promised to "e as nearly dar$ as it ever "ecomes at sea.
A messae was "rouht to him from the radio office. 5ron$ite lanced at it "riefly, pic$ed up the phone to the helipad and reached
the pilot in his shelter. ,Ready to o, Wilson@-
,Whenever you say, Mr. 5ron$ite.-
,Then, now.- 5ron$ite closed a rheostat switch and a dull low of liht outlined the helipad, (ust enouh to let Wilson ma$e a
clean ta$eoff. The helicopter made a half!circle, switched on its landin liht and made a smooth landin on the calm waters less
than a hundred yards from the stationary ?eoria. !
5ron$ite called the radar> room. ,You have him on the screen@-
,Yes, sir. 'eAs ma$in an instrument approach on our radar.-
,Let me $now when heAs a"out three miles out.-
Less than a minute later the operator ave him the word. 5ron$ite turned the rheostat to full and the helipad "ecame "rilliantly
A minute later a helicopter, landin lihts on, appeared from the north throuh the drivin rain. Dust over another minute later it
touched down as delicately as a moth, an understanda"le precaution "y the pilot, in view of the caro he was carryin. The fuelin
hoses were connected immediately. The door opened and three men descended+the alleed 5olonel *ar)uharson, Lieutenant
5olonel 8ewins and Ma(or :rec$!ley, who had "een responsi"le for the /etley Rowan Arsenal "rea$!in. They helped unload two
lare, dou"le!handed and o"viously very heavy suitcases. 5ron$ite, with suita"le admonitions as to delicacy in handlin, showed
crew mem"ers where to stow the cases in shelter.
Within ten minutes the helicopter was on its way "ac$ to the mainland. *ive minutes after that, the ?eoriaAs own helicopter had
returned and ail the helipad lihts were switched off.
Chapter 8
DIT was due only to cruel ill luc$ and the e&tremely (ittery state of 8urandAs nerves that Dohn Roomer and Melinda Worth found
themselves the first patients in 8r. ?reenshawAs sic$ "ay.
8urand was in a hihly apprehensive state of mind, a mood that transferred itself all too easily to his four su"ordinates. Althouh
he held control of the 0eawitch, he $new that his hold was a tenuous one. he had not "arained on findin 6alermo and his cutthroats
on "oard, and even thouh he held the master $eys to "oth the occidental and oriental )uarters in his poc$et+ the drillin crew was
in the former )uarters, 6alermo and his men in the latter+he was acutely aware that there were far too many windows in "oth
)uarters and he didnAt have the men to cover every possi"le e&it. 'e had "roadcast a messae over the e&ternal loud!spea$er that
anyone found on the platform would "e shot on siht and had two men on constant patrol round the oriental )uarters+he had no fear
of the unarmed drillin!ri crew+and another two constantly patrollin the platform. 'e had no fear of Lord Worth, his
seismoloists and the irls+as sources of daner he held them in contempt. :esides, they were unarmed. 9ven so, the two men
patrollin the platform had "een instructed to do so in such a fashion as to ma$e sure that at least one had an eye on the doors to the
suite of Lord Worth, the la"oratory and the sic$ "ay, all three of which had intercommunicatin doors.
/o one inside those three places had heard the warnin "roadcast+and this, ironically, "ecause Lord Worth was not a"ove
indulin in what he rearded as the "are minimum of "asic creature comforts. Oil ris can "e uncommonly noisy places, and those
)uarters he had heavily insulated.
Mitchell had "een in his tiny cu"icle of the la"oratory at the time, readin the complete plan of the layout of the 0eawitch over and
over until he was certain that he could have found his way around the ri "lindfolded. This had ta$en him a"out twenty minutes. It
was in the fifth minute of his studyin that the shots had "een fired, "ut aain, "ecause of the soundproofin, the sound had not
reached him. 'e had (ust put the plans away in a drawer when his door opened and Marina entered. 0he was white!faced and
sha$in and her face was strea$ed with tears. 'e put his arms round her and she ra""ed him tihtly.
,Why werenAt you there@- she so""ed. ,Why werenAt you there@ You could have stopped them. You could have saved themF-
Mitchell too$ no time out to dwell upon the in(ustices of life. 'e said ently. ,0topped what@ 0aved who@-
,Melinda and Dohn. TheyAve "een terri"ly hurt.-
,0hot@ I didnAt hear anythin.-
,Of course you didnAt. This area is all soundproofed. ThatAs why Melinda and Dohn didnAt hear the "roadcast warnin.-
,:roadcast warnin@ Tell it to me slowly.-
0o she told him as slowly and coherently as she could. There had "een such a warnin "ut it had one unheard in Lord WorthAs
suite. The rain had stopped, at least temporarily, and when Mitchell had retired to study the plans, Melinda and Roomer had elected
to o for a stroll. They had "een wanderin around the foot of the drillini ri, where most of the lihts had "een turned off since
8urand had ordered the a"andonment of drillin, and it was there that they had "een unned down without warnin.
,Terri"ly hurt, you said. 'ow "ad@-
ATm not sure. 8r. ?reenshaw is operatin in the sic$ "ay. IAm not a coward, you $now that, "ut there was so much "lood that I
didnAt want to loo$.-
Arrived in the sic$ "ay, Mitchell could hardly "lame her. Melinda and Roomer lay in ad(acent cots and "oth were saturated with
"lood. Melinda already had her left shoulder heavily "andaed. Roomer had "andaes swathin his nec$ and 8r. ?reenshaw was
wor$in on his chest.
Lord Worth, his face a mas$ of "itter fury, was sittin in a chair. 8urand, his face a mas$ of nothinness, was standin "y the
doorway. Mitchell loo$ed speculatively at "oth, then spo$e to 8r. ?reenshaw. ,What can you tell so far, 8octor@-
,Would you listen to him@- RoomerAs voice was a hoarse whisper and his face creased with near!aony. ,/ever thin$ of as$in us
how we feel.-
,In a minute. 8octor@-
,MelindaAs left shoulder is "ad, Tve e&tracted the "ullet "ut she needs immediate surery. IAm a sureon, "ut IAm not an orthopedic
sureon, and thatAs what she must have. Roomer hasnAt "een )uite so luc$y. 'e ot hit twice. The one throuh the nec$ missed his
carotid artery "y a whis$er, "ut the "ullet passed straiht throuh and thereAs no worry there. The chest wound is serious. /ot fatal
"ut very serious. The "ullet struc$ the left lun, no dou"t a"out that, "ut the internal "leedin isnAt that much, so I thin$ itAs a nic$, no
more. The trou"le is, I thin$ the "ullet is loded aainst the spine.-
,5an he wile his toes@-
Roomer moaned. ,My ?od, what sympathy.-
,'e can. :ut the "ullet should "e removed as soon as possi"le. I could do it "ut I have no I!ray e)uipment here. IAll ive them
"oth "lood transfusions in a moment.-
,0houldnAt they "e flown to a hospital as soon as possi"le@-
,Of course.-
Mitchell loo$ed at 8urand. ,Well@-
,:ut it wasnAt their fault They didnAt hear the warnin.A=
,Touh. ThereAs no way IAll fly them ashore. Thin$ I want a "attalion of <. 0. Marines out here in a few hours@-
,If they die itAll "e your fault.-
,9very"odyAs ot to die sometime.- 8urand left, slammin the door "ehind him.
,8ear, dear.- Roomer tried to sha$e his head, then winced at the pain in his nec$. ,'e shouldnAt have said that.-
Mitchell turned to Lord Worth. ,You can "e
of reat help, sir. Your suite is in direct contact with the radio room% can you hear what is "ein said in the radio room@-
,ThatAs no pro"lem. Two switches and I can hear "oth sides of any conversation, either on the telephone, earphones or wall
,All riht+o, and donAt stop listenin for a second.A= 'e loo$ed at the two patients on the cots. ,WeAll have them air"orne for the
hospital within a half hour.-
,'ow can that "e possi"le@-
,I donAt $now.- Mitchell sounded vaue. ,:ut weAll thin$ of somethin.-
Lord Worth left. Mitchell pulled out a slender pencil flashliht and started to flic$ it on and off in apparent aimlessness. 'is
comple&ion had one pale and the hands that held the pencil liht trem"led slihtly. Marina loo$ed at him first uncomprehendinly,
then in dismay, finally in somethin approachin contempt. Incredulously, she said. ,YouAre frihtened.-
,Your un@- Mitchell said to Roomer.
,When they went off for help I manaed to dra myself a "it nearer the ede. I unclipped the "elt and threw the whole thin over
the side.-
,?ood. WeAre still in the clear.- 'e seemed to "ecome aware of the tremor in his hands, put away his flash and thrust his hands
into his poc$ets. 'e said to Melinda. ,Who shot you@-
,A pair of very unpleasant characters named Howens$i and Rindler. We had trou"le with them "efore.-
,Howens$i and Rindler,- Mitchell repeated. 'e left the sic$ "ay.
Marina said, half in sadness, hah= in "itterness. ,My idol with the feet of clay.-
Roomer said hus$ily. ,6ut out the liht and then put out the liht.-
,What did you say@-
,I didnAt say it. Man named Othello. ThatAs the trou"le with you millionaires= dauhters. Illiterate. *irst Mitchell puts out the
lihts. 'eAs ot catAs eyes. 'e can see in almost total dar$ness where an ordinary man is "lind. 8id you $now that@-
,?ives him a tremendous advantae. And then he puts out other lihts.-
,I $now what you mean and I donAt "elieve you. I saw him sha$in.-
,Ahh ... you donAt deserve him.-
0he stared at him hi dis"elief. ,What did you say@-
,You heard me.- Roomer sounded tired and the doctor was loo$in at him in disapproval. 'e went on in a som"er voice.
,Howens$i and Rindler are dead men. They have (ust minutes to live. 'e loves Melinda almost as much as he does you, and IAve
"een his closest friend and partner since we were $ids. Mitchell loo$s after his own.- 'e smiled faintly. ,IAm afraid he ta$es care of
thins in a sort of final way.-
,:ut he was sha$in . . .- 'er voice was now lac$in in conviction.
,'e isnAt afraid of anythin that lives. As for the sha$in+heAs a throw"ac$ to the old 0candinavian "erser$ers. heAs (ust tryin to
hold in his rae. 'e usually smiles.- 'e smiled. ,YouAre sha$in now.-
0he said nothin.
Roomer said. ,ThereAs a cup"oard in the vesti"ule. If thereAs anythin in it, "rin it to me.-
0he loo$ed at him uncertainly, left and returned in a few minutes, carryin a pair of shoes. 0he held them at armAs lenth and from
the loo$ of horror on her face miht have "een holdin a co"ra.
Roomer said. ,MitchellAs@-
,O$ay. :etter return them. 'eAll "e needin them pretty soon.-
When she came "ac$, Melinda said to her. ,8o you really thin$ you could marry a man who $ills people@-
Marina shivered and said nothin. Roomer said sardonically. ,:etter than marryin a coward, IAd say.-
In the enerator room, Mitchell found what he wanted riht away+a circuit "rea$er mar$ed ,8ec$ Lihts.- 'e pulled the lever
and stepped out onto the now dar$ened platform. 'e waited a. half minute until his eyes ad(usted themselves to the dar$ness, then
moved in the direction of the derric$ crane where he could hear two men cursin in far from muted voices. 'e approached on
soundless stoc$ined feet until he was less than two yards away. 0till soundlessly, he held his pencil flash on top of the "arrel of the
0mith V Wesson and slid forward the flash switch.
The two men swun round in remar$a"ly swift unison, hands reachin for their uns.
Mitchell said. ,You $now what this is, donAt you@-
They $new. The deep!"luish sheen of a silencer!e)uipped .E4 is not readily mista$a"le for a popun. Their hands stopped reachin
for their uns. It was, to say the least, rather unnervin to see an illuminated silenced un and nothin "ut "lac$ness "eyond it.
,5lasp your hands "ehind your nec$s, turn round and start wal$in.-
They wal$ed until they could wal$ no more, for the ood reason that they had reached the end of the platform. :eyond that lay
nothin "ut the C33!foot drop to the ?ulf of Me&ico.
Mitchell said. ,Heep your hands clasped and turn round.-
They did so. ,YouAre Howens$i and Rindler@-
There was no reply.
,YouAre the two who unned down Melinda and Mr. Roomer@-
Aain there was no reply. ;ocal cords can "ecome paraly#ed when the mind is possessed of the irrevoca"le certainty that one is
"ut one step, one second, removed from eternity. Mitchell s)uee#ed the trier twice and was wal$in away "efore the dead men had
hit the waters of the ?ulf. 'e had ta$en only four steps when a flashliht "eam struc$ him in the face.
,Well, well, if it isnAt smart!ass Mitchell, the scared scientist.- Mitchell couldnAt see the man+ and the un undou"tedly "ehind
the flashliht+ "ut he had no difficulty in reconi#in the voice of 'eifer, the one with the sharp nose and ratli$e teeth. ,And
carryin a silenced un. Whatcha up to, Mr. Mitchell@-
'effer had made the classic "lunder of all incompetent would!"e assassins. 'e should have shot Mitchell on siht and then as$ed
the )uestions. Mitchell flic$ed on his pencil torch and spun it upward, where it spiraled around li$e a demented firefly. 'eifer would
have "een less than human not to have had the instinctive reaction of lancin upward as his su"conscious mind speculated as to
what the hell Mitchell was up to. a speculation of very "rief duration indeed, "ecause 'eifer was dead "efore the flash fell "ac$ onto
the platform.
Mitchell pic$ed up the flash, still surprisinly wor$in, poc$eted it, then draed 'effer "y the heels and rolled him off to (oin his
friends at the "ottom of the ?ulf. 'e returned to the sic$!"ay vesti"ule, donned his shoes and entered the sic$ "ay itself. 8r.
?reenshaw had "oth his patients on "lood transfusion.
Roomer loo$ed at his watch. ,0i& minutes. What too$ you so lon@-
A plainly unnerved Marina loo$ed at Roomer, half in dis"elief, half in stupefaction.
,Well, IAm sorry.- Mitchell actually manaed to sound apoloetic. ,I had the misfortune to run into 'eifer on the way "ac$.-
,You mean he had the misfortune to run into you. And where are our friends@A=
,IAm not rihtly sure,-
,I understand.- Roomer sounded sympathetic. ,ItAs hard to estimate the depth of the water out here.-
,I could find out. :ut it hardly seems to matter. 8r. ?reenshaw, you have stretchers@ 5omplete with straps and so forth@-
?reenshaw nodded. ,?et them ready. Let them stay where they are meantime. 5an you carry on the "lood transfusions in fliht@-
,ThatAs no pro"lem. I assume you want me to accompany them@-
,Yes, please. I $now itAs as$in an awful lot, "ut after youAve handed them over to the competent medical authorities, *d li$e you
to return.-
,It will "e a pleasure. I am now in my seventieth year and I thouht there was nothin fresh left in life for me to e&perience. I was
wron.- Marina stared at them in dis"elief. All three men seemed calm and rela&ed. Melinda appeared to have dropped off into a
coma!li$e stupor, "ut she was merely, in fact, under heavy sedation. Marina said with conviction. ,YouAre all mad.-
Mitchell said. ,ThatAs what a lunatic asylum inmate says a"out the outside world+and he may well "e riht. 'owever, thatAs
hardly the point at issue. You, Marina, will "e accompanyin the others on the trip "ac$ to *lorida. You will "e perfectly safe there+
your father will see that the most massive security uard ever mounted will "e there.-
,'ow splendid. I love "ein made a fuss over, "ein the center of attraction. 'owever, mastermind, thereAs (ust one small flaw in
your reasonin. IAm not oin. IAm stayin with my father.-
,ThatAs e&actly the point IAm oin to discuss with him now.-
,You mean youAre oin out to $ill someone else@-
Mitchell held out his hands, finers splayed. They could have "een carved from mar"le.
,Later,- Roomer said. ,'e appears to have some other thins on his mind at the moment.-
Mitchell left. Marina turned furiously on Roomer. ,YouAre (ust as "ad as he is.-
,IAm a sic$ man. You mustnAt upset me.-
,You and his "erser$er moods. 'eAs (ust a $iller.-
RoomerAs face went very still. ,You $now, I donAt loo$ forward to the prospect of havin a mentally retarded person as a sister!in!
0he was shoc$ed and the shoc$ showed. 'er voice was a whisper. ,I donAt really $now you, do I@-
,/o. WeAre the men who wal$ down the dar$ side of the streets. 0ome"ody has to loo$ after the people on the dar$ side. We do it.
8o you $now how much your father offered us to ta$e you home@- Roomer smiled. ATm afraid IAm not much ood in that
department at the moment, "ut Mi$e will ta$e care of it.-
,'ow much did he offer you@-
,Whatever we wanted in the world. A million dollars to ta$e you home@ A hundred million if weAd as$ed for it@ 0ure.-
,'ow much did you as$ for@A= 'er face wasnAt reisterin much in the way of e&pression.
Roomer sihed, ,6oor Mi$e. To thin$ that he reards you as the pot of old at the foot of the rain"ow. 6oor me, too. *m oin to
have to live with you too, even at second hand. LetAs "e corny. Your father loves you. We love you. To pile cliche on cliche, there are
some thins that canAt "e "ouht. 6earls "eyond price. 8onAt ma$e yourself an artificial pearl, Marina. And donAt ever insult us aain
that way. :ut we have to live on somethin, so weAll send him a "ill.-
,*or what@-
,Ammunition e&pended.-
0he crossed to his cotside, $nelt and $issed him. Roomer seemed too wea$ to resist. 8r.
?reenshaw was severe. ,Marina, heAs not only havin a "lood transfusion, thereAs also the factor of "lood pressure.-
Roomer said. ,My "lood pressure is reisterin no complaints.-
0he $issed him aain. ,Is that apoloy enouh@- Roomer smiled and said nothin. , A:erser$er= you said. 5an anyone stop him
when heAs li$e that@ 5an I@-
,/o. 0omeday, yes.-
,The one person is you. Yes@-
,You didnAt.-
,They carried uns.-
,You carry uns.-
,Yes. :ut weAre not evil people who carry evil uns to do evil thins.-
,ThatAs all@-
,/o.- 'e loo$ed across at Melinda. ,You see@-
,If Howens$i and Rindler hadnAt "een such damned lousy shots, sheAd "e dead.-
,0o you let Michael loose@-
,YouAre oin to marry her@-
,'ave you as$ed her@-
,You donAt have to. 0isters tal$.-
,I donAt $now, Dohn. *m a runnin coward, runnin scared.-
,'e $ills.-
,IAve $illed.-
,'eAll $ill aain@-
,I donAt $now.-
'e reached out, too$ a loc$ of her leamin "lac$ hair, pic$ed out a sinle thread. ,That-
,You mean@-
,I have to see.- 0he $ic$ed off her hih!heeled shoes.
,0o much to learn. 0it.-
0he sat on his "ed. 8r. ?reeitshaw rolled his eyes heavenward. 0he was wearin "lue (eans and a white "louse. Roomer reached
up and undid the top "utton of her "louse. 0he loo$ed at him and said nothin. Roomer said. ,You do the rest. /avy or "lac$
0he was "ac$ in thirty seconds, wearin a navy polo! 0he loo$ed in)uirinly at Roomer, who nodded. 0he left the sic$ "ay.
In Lord WorthAs livin room, he and Mitchell were seated in ad(acent armchairs. The wall!spea$ers were on. When Marina came
in, Mitchell waved her to urent silence.
Over the spea$ers 8urandAs unmista$a"le voice sounded testy. ,All I $now is that the dec$ lihts went out some minutes ao and
then came "ac$ on.- Marina lanced at Mitchell, who nodded. ,All the liht you need to land.-
,'ave you neutrali#ed the radar scanner yet@-
Marina had never heard the voice "efore, "ut the tihtenin of Lord WorthAs lip showed that 5ron$iteAs voice was no straner to
,We donAt need to now.-
,It was your idea. 8o it. WeAll leave in ten minutes, then a"out fifteen minutesA flyin time.-
, AWeAll leaveA@ That mean youAre comin too@-
,/o. IAve more important thins to do.- There was a clic$. 5ron$ite had ceased to transmit.
Lord Worth said uneasily. ,I wonder what that devious devil means "y that@-
,WeAll (ust have to find out the hard way.- Mitchell loo$ed at Marina. ,Where are your shoes@-
0he smiled sweetly. ,IAm a )uic$ study. 0hoes ma$e too much noise out on the platform.-
,YouAre not oin out on any platform.-
,I am. There are aps in my education. I want to see how $illers operate.-
Mitchell said in irritation. ,*m not oin to $ill anyone. ?o et your "a pac$ed. YouAll "e leavin soon.-
,*m not leavin.-
,:ecause I want to stay with 8addy+and with you. 8onAt you thin$ thatAs natural@-
,YouAre leavin if I have to tie you up.-
,You canAt tie my tonue up. WouldnAt the law (ust love to $now where the uns stolen from the Mississippi arsenal are@-
Lord Worth loo$ed slihtly stunned. ,YouAd do that to me@ Your own father@-
,YouAd tie me up and force me a"oard that helicopter@ Your own dauhter@-
,Tal$ a"out loic.- Mitchell shoo$ his head. ,Lord Worth seems to have fathered a nutcase. If you thin$+-
The wallspea$ers crac$led aain. ,Well, donAt (ust han around. 0top that radar.-
,'ow@- It was Aaron and he sounded rieved. ,8o you e&pect me to clim" that damned drillin ri+-
,8onAt "e stupid. ?o to the radar room. ThereAs a red lever switch (ust a"ove the console. 6ull it down.-
,That I can do.- Aaron sounded relieved. They heard the sound of a door closin. Mitchell $ic$ed off his shoes, turned off the
lihts in the livin room and eased the door open a crac$. Aaron, his "ac$ already to them, was headin for the radar room. 'e
reached it, opened the door and passed inside. Mitchell moved after him, pullin out his silenced un and holdin it in his left hand.
A soft voice "ehind him said. ,I thouht you were riht!handed.-
Mitchell didnAt even "other to curse. 'e said in a resined whisper. ,I am.-
Aaron was (ust pullin the red lever when Mitchell made his soundless entrance. 'e said. ,8onAt turn round.-
Aaron didnAt turn round.
,5lasp your hands "ehind your nec$, then turn and come over here.-
Aaron turned. ,MitchellF-
,8onAt try anythin clever. I;e already had to $ill three of your friends. A fourth isnAt oin to ive me a sleepless niht. 0top riht
there and turn round aain.-
Aaron did as he was told. Mitchell withdrew his riht hand from his coat poc$et. The "raided leather sap attached to his wrist "y a
thon was no more than five inches lon, "ut when it struc$ Aaron with considera"le force and accuracy a"ove and "ehind the riht
ear it was apparent that five inches was )uite lon enouh. Mitchell cauht him as he fell and eased him te the dec$.
,8id you have to do that+- Marina cho$ed and stopped spea$in involuntarily as MitchellAs hand clamped itself none too ently
over her mouth. 0he flinched as he shoo$ the sap "efore her eyes.
,Heep your voice down.- The whisper was intentionally savae. 'e $nelt over Aaron, removed and poc$eted his un.
,8id you have to do that@- she said in a low voice. ,You could have tied Mm up and aed him.-
,When I re)uire advice from amateurs come riht to you. I havenAt time for ames. 'ell (ust have a half!hour peaceful rest, and
then all heAll need is an aspirin.-
,And now@-
,IAm ettin tired of people callin me fool. Dohn (ust called me that. 'e also said I was mentally retarded and an artificial pearl.-
,/o shrewder (ude of character than old Dohn,- Mitchell said approvinly. ,If Aaron doesnAt return, 8urand will come loo$in
for him. Then hell et on the radiophone and stop the helicopter fliht-
,Well, thatAs what you want, isnAt it@-
'e switched off the liht and wal$ed away, Marina followin. Mitchell stopped outside the entrance to Lord WorthAs sittin room.
,?et inside. YouAre "oth an irritation and a lia"ility. I canAt function properly with you around. 'eroines I can do without.A=
,I promise you I wonAt say a word. I promise+-
'e cauht her "y the arm and thrust her forci"ly inside. Lord Worth loo$ed up in mild
surprise. Mitchell said. ,I will hold you personally responsi"le, Lord Worth, if you let this pes$y dauhter of yours outside that
door aain. Also, IAm dimmin the dec$ lihts. Any"ody movin around the platform will "e shot. ThatAs my .promise and youAd
"etter "elieve it. This is no place for children who want to play ames.- The door closed "ehind him.
,WellF- Marina sat down and ripped her hands toether. ,What $ind of hus"and do you thin$ fie would ma$e@-
,A perfectly splendid one, I should imaine. Loo$, my dear, one of Mitchelts outstandin assets is a hair!trier reaction. You
"lunt it. And you $now damn well how he feels a"out you+ your presence (ust constitutes an additional worry at a time when he
can least afford either. A wife doesnAt accompany her hus"and down a coal mine or on a wartime "om"in mission. And Mitchell is
much more of a loner than such people are.-
0he attempted somethin "etween a lower and a scowl, "ut her "eautiful face really wasnAt made for it, so she settled for a rueful
smile, rose and replenished his lass of malt whis$y.
Mitchell removed the un and two lare $eys from the poc$ets of an unconscious 8urand, made his way to the main entrance to
the oriental )uarters, opened the door and switched on the corridor lihts.
AA5ommander Larsen,- he called out. ,6alermo.-
8oors opened and the two men were with him in a few seconds. Larsen said. ,MitchellF What the hell are you doin here@-
,Dust a harmless seismoloist ta$in a stroll.-
,:ut didnAt you hear the "roadcast warnin+ anyone on the platform will "e shot on siht@-
,ThatAs past. One piece of "ad news, two of ood. :ad news first Roomer and Miss Melinda didnAt hear the warnin+those
)uarters are sound!insulated. 0o they too$ a wal$. :oth were hurt "adly. Melinda has a shattered left shoulder. Roomer was shot
throuh the nec$ and chest The doctor thin$s the "ullet is loded aainst his spine. WeAve ot to et them to the hospital and )uic$.
WhoAs Lord WorthAs personal pilot@-
,5ham"ers,- Larsen said.
,?et one of your men to have him refuel his machine. /ow the ood news. 8urand is in the radio room% his num"er two, uy
named Aaron, is in the radar room. :oth are unconscious.- 'e loo$ed at 6alermo. ,When they come to+itAll "e some time yet+can
you have them loo$ed after with lovin care and attention@-
,Our pleasure.-
Larsen said. ,8urand had three other men.-
,TheyAre dead.-
,We didnAt hear any shootin.-
Mitchell ave them a "rief siht of his silenced .E4. Larsen loo$ed thouhtful. ,Lord Worth has tal$ed a"out you. I used to thin$
he was e&aeratin.-
,The other "it of ood news. 5ron$ite is sendin some reinforcements "y helicopter+not many, I "elieve, eiht or nine+and they
should "e ta$in off a"out now. A fifteen!minute fliht, I ather, so I thin$ 5ron$iteAs "oat is somewhere (ust "elow the hori#on,
"elow our radar sweep.-
6alermo "rihtened. ,We "last this chopper out of the s$y@-
,My first thouht, I must admit. :ut letAs try to play it smart and put him off his uard.!LetAs let them land, then ta$e them. WeAll
ma$e their leader report to 5ron$ite that everythinAs o$ay.-
,What if he wonAt@ Or tries to warn him@-
,WeAll write out his script. If he chanes one word *ll shoot him. 0ilencer. 5ron$ite wonAt hear it.-
,'e miht hear the uy scream.-
,When a .E4 slu enters the "ase of your s$ull and travels upward at forty!five derees, you donAt scream very much.-
,You mean youAd $ill him@- While not e&actly incredulous, Larsen was o"viously ta$en a"ac$.
,Yes. Then weAd line up num"er two. We shouldnAt have too much trou"le with him.-
Larsen said with some feelin. ,When Lord Worth tal$ed a"out you he didnAt tell me the half of it-
,Another thin. I want that helicopter. Well fa$e a story that the enine failed a"ove the pad and it crash!landed, and will ta$e
several hours to repair. ItAs always handy to have another helicopter around "ut, more important, I want to deprive 5ron$ite of the
use of his.- 'e loo$ed at 6alermo. ,I ta$e it that the reception committee can "e safely left in your hands@-
,It sure can. Any suestions@-
,Well, I dou"t that I need to lecture an e&pert li$e you.-
,You $now me@-
,I used to "e a cop. In any case, the ri is loaded with porta"le searchlihts. TheyAll head for the administration "uildins. IAd stay
in hidin, switch off the dec$ lihts and then turn on the searchlihts when theyAre, say, thirty yards away. TheyAll "e "linded and
wonAt "e a"le to see you.-
,You canAt count on what nutcases li$e thatAll do.-
ATil "et you can.- Mitchell smiled "riefly at him, cop to croo$. 'e said to Larsen. ,I have a feelin that Lord Worth would li$e to
confer with his ri "oss.-
,Yes.- They wal$ed away as 6alermo was already ivin rapid instructions to his men. ,Lord Worth $now what youAre up to@-
IT havenAt had time. Anyway, I wouldnAt tell Lord Worth how to ma$e a "illion out of oil.-
,?ood point.- They stopped "riefly "y the radio room. Larsen a#ed at the crumpled form of 8urand, half in appreciation, half in
reret. ,What a "eautiful siht Wish it had "een me, thouh.-
,IAll "et 8urand+when he wa$es up+doesnAt 6lastic sureons come hih.-
They made their ne&t "rief stop at the sic$ "ay. Larsen loo$ed at a still comatose Melinda and a wide!awa$e Roomer and his
massive fists clenched. Roomer smiled. ,I $now. :ut youAre too late. 'ow deepAs the water here@-
,/ine hundred feet.-
,Then youAd need a divin "ell to et your hands round the throats of those responsi"le. And how are thins with you, 5ommander
Larsen@ You can see how thins are with us.-
,IAve "een restin. Mitchell has "een more active. :esides the three men at the "ottom of the ?ulf, heAs also deprived me of the
pleasure of "eatin the hell out of 8urand. Aaron isnAt feelin too well either.-
Roomer said apoloetically. ,'e doesnAt o in much for diplomacy. 0o the 0eawitch is in our hands@-
,*or the moment-
,*or the moment@-
,8o you e&pect a man li$e 5ron$ite to ive up@ 0o $eAs lost five men and is pro"a"ly a"out to lose another eiht or nine. WhatAs
that for a man with ten million to play around with@ And heAs ot his personal vendetta aainst Lord Worth. If he has to cripple or
even destroy the 0eawitch, includin every"ody a"oard+well, it isnAt oin to "other 5ron$iteAs conscience for lon.- 'e turned to
8r. ?reenshaw. ,I thin$ itAs time you ot "usy with the stretchers. 5an you spare four of your drillin crew, 5ommander, to help
transfer them to the stretchers and then across to the helicopter@ IAm afraid, Dohn, youAre oin to have some unpleasant company on
the trip. 8urand and Aaron. Tied up li$e chic$ens, of course.-
,Well, than$ you very much.-
,I can+occasionally+"e as leery as you. I wouldnAt put it past 5ron$ite to et a"oard the 0eawitch. 'ow, I havenAt the faintest
idea, "ut with a hihly devious mind a driven man can accomplish most anythin. If he succeeded I donAt want 8urand and Aaron
"lowin the whistle on me. I want to stay an inconspicuous and harmless seismoloist.-
Larsen ave a few orders on the phone, then he and Mitchell went throuh to Lord WorthAs room. Lord Worth was on the phone,
listenin and scowlin. Marina loo$ed at Mitchell with an e&pression as for"iddin as her fatherAs.
,I suppose youAve "een <tterin the platform with a few more dead men@-
,You do me a rave in(ustice. ThereAs no one left to $ill.- 0he ave what miht have "een a tiny shudder and loo$ed away.
Larsen said. ,The ship is in our hands, Miss Marina. WeAre e&pectin a little more trou"le in a"out ten minutes, "ut we can ta$e
care of that.-
Lord Worth replaced his receiver. ,WhatAs that@-
,5ron$ite is sendin some reinforcements "y helicopter. /ot many+eiht or nine. They wonAt have a chance. 'eAs under the
Impression that 8urand is still in chare here.-
,I ta$e it heAs not.-
,'eAs unconscious and tied up. 0o is Aaron.-
A yearnin loo$ came over Lord WorthAs face. ,Is 5ron$ite comin with them@-
,'ow very unfortunate. And IAve (ust had some more "ad news. The Tor"ello has "ro$en down.-
,/o. The main fuel!supply line to its enine has fractured. Dust a temporary stop, thouh it may ta$e some hours to repair. :ut
thereAs no cause for worry, and half!hourly reports on the state of repairs should "e forthcomin.-
Another distur"in point had arisen. Lord Worth disclosed that no ma(or marine!insurance companies or LloydAs of London had
ever heard of the e&istence of the Ti"uron, The fact was less than surprisin if one $new of MulhooneyAs renamin e&ploits+
'ammond to Ti"uron to ?eoria. The vessel had virtually ceased to e&ist 9ven more distur"in, however, was the fact that the
Marine ?ulf 5orporation had reported the disappearance of its seismoloical survey vessel from *reeport. It was called the
The <. 0. /avy had two points of cold comfort to offer. What the <nited 0tates did with its o"solete su"marines was to scrap them
or sell them to forein overnments. none had ever fallen into the hands of commercial companies or private individuals. /or were
there any 5ous!teau!type su"mersi"les alon the ?ulf 5oast
The telephone "ell (anled. Lord Worth switched on the wall receivers. The radio officer was succinct
,'elicopter, flyin low, due northwest, five miles out.-
,Well, now,- Larsen said, ,this should provide a diversion. 5omin, Mitchell@-
,In a minute. I have a little note to write. Remem"er@-
,The note, of course.- Larsen left. Mitchell penned a "rief note in neat printed script that left no room for misinterpretation, folded
it in his poc$et and went to the door. Lord Worth said. ,Mind if I come alon@-
,Well, there wonAt "e any daner, "ut I thin$ youAd do "etter to listen for messaes from radar, radio, sonar and so forth.-
,Areed. And 'I call up the 0ecretary to see what luc$ heAs had in haulin those damned warships off my "ac$.-
Marina said sweetly. ,If thereAs no daner *ra comin with you.-
,You have a very limited voca"ulary, Mr. Mitchell.-
,Instead of tryin to "e a heroine you miht try the *lorence /ihtinale "it+there are two very sic$ people throuh there who
need their hands held.-
,YouAre much too "ossy, Michael.-
,As they say, a male chauvinist pi.-
,5ould you imaine me marryin a person li$e you@-
,Your imaination is your own "usiness. :esides, IAve never as$ed you to.- 'e left.
,WellF- 0he loo$ed suspiciously at her father, "ut Lord Worth had his risi"ility under complete control. 'e pic$ed up a phone and
as$ed that the 5hristmas tree "e opened and the e&ploratory drillin restarted.
The helicopter was ma$in its landin approach as Mitchell (oined Larsen and 6alermo and his men in the deep shadows of the
accommodation area. The platform liht had "een dimmed "ut the helipad was "rihtly illuminated. 6alermo had si& porta"le
searchlihts in position. 'e nodded to Mitchell, then made his unhurried way to the pad. 'e was carryin an envelope in his hand.
The helicopter touched down, the door opened and men with a discourain assortment ofQauto!matic weapons started to
disem"ar$. 6alermo said. ,IAm Marino. WhoAs in chare here@
,Me. Mortensen.- 'e was a "ul$y youn man in "attle fatiues, loo$in more li$e a "riht youn lieutenant than the thu he
undou"tedly was. ,I thouht 8urand was in chare here.-
,'e is. Riht now heAs havin a tal$ with Lord Worth. 'eAs waitin for you in WorthAs )uarters.-
,Why are the dec$ lihts so dim@-
,;oltae drop. :ein fi&ed. The landin pads have their own enerators.- 'e pointed. ,Over there.-
Mortensen nodded and led his eiht men away. 6alermo said. ,:e with you in a minute. *ve ot a private messae for the pilot
from 5ron$ite.-
6alermo clim"ed up into the helicopter. 'e reeted the pilot and said. ,I ot a messae here for you from 5ron$ite.-
The pilot reistered a deree of surprise. ,I was told to fly straiht "ac$.-
,WonAt "e lon. 0eems 5ron$ite is an&ious to see Worth and his dauhters.-
The pilot rinned and too$ the envelope from 6alermo. 'e opened it, e&amined "oth sides of a "lan$ sheet of paper and said.
,What ives@-
,This.- 6alermo showed him a un a"out the si#e of a small cannon. ,8onAt "e a dead hero.-
The platform lihts went out and si& searchlihts came on. LarsenAs stentorian voice carried clearly. ,Throw down your uns. You
havenAt ot a chance.-
One of MortensenAs men suicidally thouht different 'e flun himself to the platform dec$, loosed off a "urst of su"machine fire
and successfully $illed one of the searchlihts. If he felt any sense of ratification it must have "een the shortest on record, for he
was dead "efore the shattered lass stopped tin$lin down on the platform. The other eiht men threw down their uns.
6alermo sihed. 'e said to the pilot. ,0ee@ 8ead heroes are no ood to anyone. 5ome on.-
9iht of the nine men, includin the pilot, were shepherded into a windowless storeroom and loc$ed inside. The ninth, Mortensen,
was ta$en to the radio room where he was shortly (oined "y Mitchell. *or the occasion, Mitchell had chaned into a "oiler suit and
ma$eshift hood, which not only effectively mas$ed his face "ut also muffled his voice. 'e had no wish to "e identified.
'e produced the paper on which he had made notes, screwed the mu##le of his .E4 into the "ase of MortensenAs nec$, told him to
contact 5ron$ite and read out the messae and that the slihtest deviation from the script would mean a shattered "rain. Mortensen
was no fool and in his peculiar line of trade he had loo$ed into the face of death more than once. 'e made the contact, said all was
well, that he and 8urand were in complete control of the 0eawitch, "ut that it miht "e several hours "efore the helicopter could
return, as last!minute enine failure had damaed the undercarriae. 5ron$ite seemed reasona"ly satisfied and hun up.
When Larsen and Mitchell returned to Lord WorthAs ca"in the latter seemed in a more cheerful frame of mind. The 6entaon had
reported that the two naval vessels from 5u"a and the one from ;ene#uela were stopped in the water and appeared to "e waitin
instructions. The Tor"ello was on its way aain and was e&pected to arrive in ?alveston in ninety minutes. Lord Worth miht have
felt less satisfied if heAd $nown that the Tor"ello, sha$in hi every rivet, seam and plate, was several hundred miles from ?alveston,
travelin southwest in calm seas. Mulhooney was in no mood to han around.
Marina said accusinly. ,I heard shots "ein fired out there.-
,Dust warnin shots in the air,- Mitchell said, ,0cares the hell out of people.-
,You made them all prisoner.-
Lord Worth said irrita"ly. ,8onAt tal$ nonsense. /ow do "e )uiet. The commander and I have important matters to discuss.-
,WeAll leave,- Mitchell said. 'e loo$ed at Marina. ,5ome on+letAs see the patients off.-
They followed the two stretchers out to the helicopter. They were accompanied "y 8urand and Aaron+"oth with their hands tied
"ehind their "ac$s and on a nine!inch ho""le+8r. ?reenshaw and one of 6alermoAs men, a menacin individual with a sawed!off
shotun who was to ride uard on the captives until they reached the mainland.
Mitchell said to Marina. ,Last chance.-
,WeAre oin to ma$e a reat couple,- Mitchell said loomily. ,Monosylla"ic, yet.-
They said their ood"yes, watched the helicopter lift off and made their way "ac$ to Lord WorthAs )uarters. :oth Worth and
Larsen were on separate lines, and from the e&pressions on their faces it was clear that they were less happy with life than they
miht have "een. :oth men were tryin, with #ero effect, to o"tain some additional tan$erae. There were, in fact, some half!do#en
idle tan$ers on the south and east coasts in the 23,333!ton rane, "ut all "eloned to the ma(or oil companies, who would have one
to the sta$e "efore charterin any of their vessels to the /orth 'udson Oil 5ompany. The nearest tan$ers of the re)uired tonnae
were either in :ritain, /orway or the Mediterranean, and to have "rouht them across would have involved an intolera"le loss of
time, not to say money+this last matter lyin very close to Lord WorthAs heart. 'e and Larsen had even considered "rinin one of
their supertan$ers into service, "ut had decided aainst it. :ecause of the tan$ersA hue carryin capacity, the loss in revenue would
have "een un"eara"ly hih+and what had happened to the 5rusader miht happen to a supertan$er. True, they were insured at
LloydAs, "ut that auust firmAs marine!accident investiators were notoriously, if (ustifia"ly, caey, prudent and cautious men% and
althouh they invaria"ly settled any enuine claim, they tended to deli"erate at lenth "efore ma$in any final decision.
Another call came throuh from the Tor"ello. On course, its estimated time of arrival in ?al!veston was one hour. Lord Worth said
loomily that they had at least two tan$ers in operation. they would (ust have to step up their already crowded schedules.
One half hour later another messae came throuh from the tan$er. One half hour to ?al!veston. Lord Worth miht have felt less
assured had he $nown that now that dar$ had fallen, the 0tarliht, leavin the ?eoria where it was, had already moved away in the
direction of the 0ea!witch, its enines runnin on its electrical "atteries. Its chances of sonar detection "y the 0eawitch were
rearded as e&tremely small. It carried with it hihly s$illed divers and an unpleasant assortment of mines, limpet mines and amatol
"eehives, all of which could "e activated "y remote radioactive control.
Yet another half hour passed "efore the welcome news came throuh that the tan$er Tor"ello was safely "erthed in ?alveston.
Lord Worth informed Larsen he intended to ma$e an immediate voice!lin$ call to the port authorities in ?alveston to ensure the
fastest turnaround ever, money no o"(ect
'e ot his voice lin$ in (ust one minute+the Lord Worths of this world are never $ept waitin. When he made his customary
peremptory demands the har"ormaster e&pressed a considera"le deree of surprise.
,I really donAt $now what youAre tal$in a"out, sir.-
,?oddam it, I always $now what IAm tal$in a"out.-
,/ot in this case, Lord Worth, IAm afraid youAve "een misinformed or hoa&ed. The Tor"ello has not arrived.-
,:ut dammit, IAve (ust heard+-
,One moment, please.-
The moment passed into a"out thirty durin which Mitchell thouhtfully "rouht Lord Worth a lass of scotch, which he half!
consumed at one ulp. Then the voice came throuh aain.
,:ad news. ThereAs not only no sin of your tan$er, "ut our radar scanners show no sins of any vessel of that si#e within a radius
of forty miles.-
,Then, what the devil can have happened to her@ I was spea$in to her only two or three minutes ao.-
,On her own call sin@-
,Yes, dammit-
=Then o"viously sheAs in no trou"le.-
Lord Worth hun up without as much as a courtesy than$ you. 'e lowered at Larsen and Mitchell as if what had happened had
"een their fault. 'e said at lenth. ,I can only conclude that the captain of the Tor"ello has one off his roc$er.-
Mitchell said. ,And I conclude that heAs under loc$ and $ey a"oard his own ship.A=
Lord Worth was heavily ironic. ,In addition to your many other accomplishments youAve now "ecome psychic.-
,Your Tor"ello has "een hi(ac$ed.-
,'i(ac$edF 'i(ac$ed@ /ow youAve one off your roc$er. Who ever heard of a tan$er "ein hi(ac$ed@-
,Who ever heard of a (um"o (et "ein hi(ac$ed until the first one was@ After what happened to the 5rusader in ?alveston, the
captain of the Tor"ello would have "een e&tremely leery of "ein approached, much less "oarded, "y any other vessel unless it were
a craft with respecta"ility "eyond )uestion. The only two such types of craft are naval or coast uard. We;e heard that the Marine
?ulf 5orporationAs survey vessel has "een stolen. A lot of those survey vessels are e&!coast uard with landin space for a helicopter
to carry out seismoloical pattern "om"in. That ship was called the 'ammond. With your connections you could find out a"out it
in minutes.-
Lord Worth did find out in minutes. 'e said. ,0o youAre riht.- 'e was too dum"founded even to apoloi#e. ,And this of course
was the Ti"uron that 5ron$ite sailed from ?alveston. ?od only $nows what name it oes under now. What ne&t, I wonder@-
Mitchell said. ,A call from 5ron$ite, IAd uess.-
,What would he call me for@-
,0ome touh demands, IAd say. I donAt $now.-
Lord Worth was nothin if not resilient. 'e had powerful and influential friends. 'e called an admiral in naval head)uarters in
Washinton and demanded that an air!sea search unit "e dispatched immediately to the scene. The /avy apoloetically said that they
would have to o"tain the permission of the 5ommander!in!5hief +that is, the 6resident. The 6resident, he $new, would profess a
profound if polite deree of disinterest. /either he nor 5onress had any reason to love the oil companies who had so fre)uently
flouted them+which was less than fair to Lord Worth, who had never flouted anyone in Wash!C1K
Allstalr MaeLcam
inton in his life. More, the search almost certainly lay outside their (urisdictional waters. :esides, it was rainin in the ?ulf and
"lac$ as the pit, and thouh their radar miht well pic$ up a hundred ships in the area, visual identification would "e impossi"le.
'e tried the 5IA. Then! disinterest was even more profound. In the several years past they had had their finers "adly "urned in
pu"lic and all their spare time was devoted to lic$in their wounds.
The *:I curtly reminded him that their activities were purely internal and that anyway they ot seasic$ whenever they ventured on
Lord Worth considered ma$in an appeal to the </, "ut was dissuaded "y Larsen and Miteh!elL /ot only would the Ara" states,
;ene#uela, /ieria, every 5ommunist country, and what now went "y the name of the Third World+and they held the vast ma(ority
of votes hi the </+ veto any such suestion. the </ had no leal power to initiate any such action. Apart from that, "y that time
the entire </ comple& were pro"a"ly hi "ed anyway.
*or once in his life, Lord Worth appeared to "e at a loss. Life, it appeared, could hold no more for him. Lord Worth was
discoverin that, upon occasion, he could "e as falli"le as the ne&t man.
A voice!over call came throuh. It was, as Mitchell had predicted it would "e, 5ron$ite. 'e was lad to inform Lord Worth that
there was no cause for concern over the Tor"ello, as she was in safe and sound hands.
,Where@- 'ad his dauhter not "een present, Lord Worth would undou"tedly have )ualified his )uestion with a few choice
,I prefer not to specify e&actly. 9nouh to say that she is securely anchored in the territorial waters of a 5entral American country.
It is my intention to dispose of this oil to this very poor and oil!deficient country-+he did not mention that it was his intention to
sell it at half price, which would "rin in a few accepta"le hundred thousands of dollars+-then ta$e the tan$er out to sea and sin$ it.
<nless, of course+-
,<nless what@- Lord Worth as$ed. 'is voice had assumed a peculiar hoarseness.
,<nless you close down the 5hristmas tree on the 0eawiteh and immediately stop all pumpin and drillin.-
,'owAs that@-
,Your thus have already attended to that 'avenAt they told you@-
,I want proof. I want Mortensen.-
Lord Worth said wearily. ,'old on. WeAll et him7A
Mitchell went to fetch him. :y the time he returned, overalled and mas$ed, Mortensen had "een thorouhly "riefed. 'e confirmed
to 5ron$ite that all pumpin and drillin had stopped. 5ron$ite e&pressed his satisfaction and the radio lin$ went dead. Mitchell
removed the .E4 from "elow MortensenAs ear and two of 6alermoAs men too$ him from the room. Mitchell too$ off his hood and
Marina loo$ed at him with a mi&ture of horror and incredulity.
0he whispered. ,You were ready to $ill him.- ,/ot at all. I was oin to pat him on the head and tell him what a ood "oy he was.
I as$ed you to et off this ri.-
Chapter 9
Worth had "arely "eun to wipe his "row when two men hurried into the room. One was 6alermo and the other was one of the ri
crew, 0impson, whose duty it was to monitor the sensory instruments attached to the platformAs les and the tensionin anchor
ca"les. 'e was o"viously in a state of considera"le aitation.
Lord Worth said. ,What fresh horror does fate hold in store for us now@-
,0ome"ody "elow the ri, sir. My instruments have one a "it haywire. 0ome o"(ect, almost certainly metallic, is ia intermittent
contact with the western le.-
,There can "e no dou"t a"out this@- 0impson shoo$ his head. ,0eems damna"ly odd that 5ron$ite would try to "rin down the
0eawitch with his own men on "oard.-
Mitchell said. ,May"e he doesnAt want to "rin it down, (ust damae the le enouh to destroy the "uoyancy in the le and the
ad(acent mem"ers and tilt the 0eawitch so the drill and pump!hu mechanisms donAt wor$. May"e anythin. Or may"e he would "e
prepared to sacrifice his own men to et you.- 'e turned to 6alermo. ,I $now youAve ot scu"a e)uipment a"oard. 0how me.- They
Marina said. ,I suppose heAs off to murder someone else. 'eAs not really human, is he@-
Lord Worth loo$ed at her without enthusiasm. ,If you call "ein inhuman wantin to see that you donAt die, then heAs inhuman.
ThereAs only one person a"oard this ri he really cares for, and you damned well $now it. I never thouht *d "e ashamed of a
dauhter of mine.-
6alermo had, in fact, two trained scu"a divers with him, "ut Mitchell chose only one to accompany him. 6alermo was not a man to
"e easily impressed, "ut he had seen enouh of Mitchell not to )uestion his (udment. In remar$a"ly )uic$ time Mitchell and the
other man, who went "y the name of 0awyers, were dressed in scu"a outfits and were e)uipped with reloada"le compressed!air
harpoon uns and sheath $nives.
They were lowered to the water "y the only availa"le means on such a iant TL6+a wire!mesh cae attached to the "oom of the
derric$ crane. At water level they opened the hined door, dived and swam to the iant western le.
0impson had made no mista$e. They were indeed at wor$ down there, two of them, attached "y airlines and ca"les to the shadowy
outline of a vessel some twenty feet a"ove them. :oth wore powerful headlamps. TheyW were eneretically enaed in attachin
limpet mines, conventional manetic mines and wraparound rolls of "eehive amatol to the enormous le. They had enouh
e&plosives there, Mitchell fiured, to "rin down the 9iffel Tower. May"e 5ron$ite did intend to destroy the le. That 5ron$ite was
unhined seemed more pro"a"le than not.
The two sa"oteurs were not only eneretically enaed in their tas$, they were so e&clusively preoccupied with it that they failed
to notice the stealthy approach of Mitchell and 0awyers. The two scu"a divers pressed their mas$s toether, loo$ed into each otherAs
eyes+there was sufficient reflected liht from the other divers to allow them to do this+and nodded simultaneously. /ot much
iven to s)ueamishness where potential $illers were concerned, they harpooned the two sa"oteurs throuh their "ac$s. In "oth cases,
death was instantaneous. Mitchell and 0awyers reloaded their compressed!air harpoons then, for ood measure, sliced their two
victims= "reathin tu"es, which also contained the communication wires.
On the 0tarliht, 9aston and his crew were instantly aware that somethin had one drastically wron. The dead men were pulled
up, the harpoons still im"edded in their "ac$s, and as the corpses were "ein hauled over the unwales two of the crew cried out in
aony. Mitchell and 0awyers had surfaced and pic$ed off two more tarets. Whether either had "een mortally or rievously in(ured
was impossi"le to say, "ut far more than enouh had happened for 9aston to ta$e off at speed, this time on his much faster diesels.
the enines were admittedly noisy, "ut the dar$ness was so intense that it was impossi"le for the alerted unners on the platform to
o"tain an accurate fi& on them.
The two scu"a divers, their own headlihts now switched on, swam down to the spot where the mines and e&plosives had "een
attached to the les. There were time fuses attached to "oth mines and e&plosives. Those they detached and let fall to the "ottom of
the ocean. *or ood measure they also removed the detonators. The e&plosives, now harmless, they unwound and let them follow the
time fuses. The mines they prudently left where they were. :oth men were e&plosives e&perts "ut not deep!water e&plosives e&perts.
Mines, as many hosts can attest, can "e very tric$y and unpredicta"le. They consist of T/T, amatol, or some such conventional
e&plosive as the main chare. In their central tu"e they have a primer, which may consist of one of a variety of slow!"urnin
e&plosives, and fitted to the top of the primer is a travelin detonator, activated "y sea pressure, which usually consists of seventy!
seven rains of fulminate of mercury. 9ven with this detonator removed, the primer can still detonate under immense pressure.
/either diver had any wish to "low up the pile!driven anchors or the tensionin ca"les attached to the anchors. ;ia the derric$ crane
they made their way "ac$ to the platform and reported to the radio room. They had to wait for some time "efore ma$in their report,
for Lord Worth was in a far from amica"le telephone conversation with 5ron$ite. Marina sat apart, her hands clenched and her
normally tanned face a rayish color. 0he loo$ed at Mitchell, then averted her eyes as if she never wished to set eyes on him aain,
which, at the moment, she pro"a"ly didnAt. 5ron$ite was furious. ,You murderous "astard, Worth.- 'e was clearly unaware that he
was tal$in in the presence of ladies. ,Three of my men dead, harpooned throuh the "ac$.- Involuntarily, Marina loo$ed at
Mitchell aain. Mitchell had the impression that he was either a monster from outer space or from the nethermost depths. at any rate,
a monster.
Lord Worth was no less furious. ,It would "e a pleasure to repeat the process+with you as the central fiure this time.-
5ron$ite cho$ed, then said with what miht have "een truth. ,My intention was (ust temporarily to incapacitate the 0eawitch
without harmin anyone a"oard. :ut if you want to play it rouh youAll have to find a new 0eawitch in twenty!four hours. ThatAs if
youAre fortunate enouh to survive. IAm oin to "last you out of the water.-
Lord Worth was calmer now. ,It would "e interestin to $now how youAre oin to achieve that. My information is that your
warships have "een ordered "ac$ to "ase.-
,ThereAs more than one way of "lastin you out of the water.- 5ron$ite sounded very sure of himself. ,In the meantime IAm oin
to offload the Tor"elloAs oil, then sin$ it.- In point of fact, 5ron$ite had no intention of sin$in the tan$er. the Tor"ello was a
6anamanian reistered tan$er, and 5ron$ite was not lac$in in 6anamanian friends. A tan$er could "e easily disposed of for a very
considera"le sum. The conversation, if such an acrimonious e&chane could "e so called, ended a"ruptly.
Mitchell said. ,One thinAs for sure. 5ron$ite is a fluent liar. 'eAs nowhere near 5entral America. /ot with that $ind of reception.
And we heard him tal$in to his friend 8urand. 'e elected not to come on that helicopter fliht+which lasted only fifteen minutes.
'eAs lyin out there somewhere (ust over the hori#on.-
Lord Worth said. ,'ow did thins o down there@-
,You heard what 5ron$ite said. There was no trou"le on our part.-
,8o you e&pect more@-
,Yeah. 5ron$ite sounds too damn confident for me,-
,'ow do you thin$ itAll come@-
,Your uess is as ood as mine. 'e miht even try the same thin aain.-
Lord Worth was incredulous. ,After what happened to him@-
,'e may "e countin on the une&pected. One thin Tm sure of. If he does try the same aain heAll- use different tactics. IAm sure
he wonAt try an air or su"marine approach, if for no other reason than that he doesnAt+he canAt+have s$illed men. 0o I donAt thin$
youAll need your radar or sonar watchers toniht. In any case, your radio operator may need a rest+after all, heAs ot an alarm call!up
in his ca"in. Td $eep 0impson on duty, thouh. Dust in case our friends try for one of the les aain.-
6alermo said. ,:ut theyAd "e waitin this time. TheyAd "e operatin close to the surface. TheyAd have armed uards waitin to
protect the divers, may"e even infrared searchlihts that we couldnAt see from the platform. You and 0awyers were luc$y the first
time, and luc$ depends on surprise. "ut there wouldnAt "e any surprise this time.-
,We donAt need luc$. Lord Worth wouldnAt have had all those depth chares stolen and "rouht a"oard unless one of your men is
an e&pert in depth chares. YouAve ot such a man@-
,Yeah.- 6alermo eyed him speculatively. ,5ronin. 9&!petty officer. Why@-
,'e could arrane the detonator settin so that the!depth chare would e&plode immediately or soon after hittin the water@-
,I uess so. Aain, why@-
,We roll three depth chares alon the platform to within, say, twenty!five yards of each of the les. Your friend 5ronin could
advise us on this. My distance could "e wron. If 0impson detects anythin on his sensors we (ust push one of the depth chares
over the side. The "last effect should have no effect on the le. I dou"t if the "oat with the divers would et anythin more than a
hard sha$in. :ut for divers in the water the concussive shoc$ effects could hardly miss "ein fatal.-
6alermo loo$ed at him with cold appraisin eyes. ,*or a man supposed to "e on the side of the law, Mitchell, youAre the most cold!
"looded "astard *ve ever met.A=
,If you want to die (ust say so. YouAd find it a "it uncomforta"le nine hundred feet down in the ?ulf. I suest you et 5ronin and
a couple of your men and et oin on the depth chares.-
Mitchell followed to watch 6alermo, 5ronin and two of their men at wor$. 5ronin areed with MitchelTs estimate of placin the
depth chares twenty!five yards from the les. As he stood there Marina came up to him.
0he said. ,More men are oin to die, arenAt they, Michael@-
,I hope not.-
,:ut you are ettin ready to $ill, arenAt you@-
,IAm ettin ready to survive. IAm ettin ready for all of us to survive.-
0he too$ his arm. ,8o you li$e $illin@-
,Then how come youAre so ood at it@-
,0ome"ody has to "e.-
,*or the ood of man$ind, I suppose@-
,Loo$, you donAt have to tal$ to me.- 'e paused and went on slowly. ,5ops $ill. 0oldiers $ill. Airmen $ill. They donAt have to li$e
it. In the *irst World War a uy named Marshal *och ot to "e the roost decorated soldier of the war for "ein responsi"le for the
deaths of a million men. The fact that most of them were his own men would seem to "e "eside the point. I donAt hunt, I donAt shoot
ame, I donAt even fish. I mean, I li$e lam" as much as the ne&t man, "ut I wouldnAt put a hoo$ in oneAs throat and dra it around a
field for half an hour "efore it dies from aony and e&haustion. All I do is e&terminate vermin. To me, all croo$s, armed or not, are
,Is that why you and Dohn ot fired from the police@-
,8o I have to tell you that@-
,'ave you ever $illed what you, what I, would call a ood person@-
,/o. :ut unless you shut up+-
,In spite of everythin, I thin$ I miht still marry you.-
,IAve never as$ed you.-
,Well, what are you waitin for@-
Mitchell sihed, then smiled. ,Marina Worth, would you do me the honor+-
:ehind them, Lord Worth couhed. Marina swun round. ,8addy,- she said, ,you have a enius for turnin up at the wron
Lord Worth was mild. ,The riht moment I would have said. My unreserved conratulations.- 'e loo$ed at Mitchell. ,Well, you
certainly too$ your time a"out it. 9verythin shipshape and secured for the niht@-
,As far as I can uess at what oes on in 5ron$iteAs mind.-
,My confidence in you, my "oy, is total. Well, itAs "ed for me+I feel, perhaps not unaccounta"ly, e&tremely tired.-
Marina said. ,Me, too. Well, oodniht, fiance-.- 0he $issed him lihtly and left with her father.
*or once, Lord WorthAs confidence in Mitchell was slihtly misplaced. The latter had made a mista$e, thouh a completely
unwittin one, in sendin the radio officer off duty. *or had that officer remained on duty he would undou"tedly have pic$ed up the
news flash a"out the theft of the nuclear weapons from the /etley Rowan Arsenal. Mitchell could not have failed to put two and two
8urin the third hour of Lord WorthAs conscience!untrou"led sleep Mulhooney had "een e&tremely active. 'e had dischared his
fifty thousand tons of oil and ta$en the Tor"ello well out!to sea, far over the hori#on. 'e returned later with two companions in the
shipAs only motori#ed life"oat with the sad news that, in the sin$in of the tan$er, a shatterin e&plosion had occurred which had
decimated his crew. They three were the only survivors. The decimated crew were, at that moment, ta$in the Tor"ello south to
6anama. The official condolences were widespread, apparently sincere and wholly hypocritical. when a tan$er "lows up its
motori#ed life"oat does not survive intact. The repu"lic had no diplomatic relations with the <nited 0tates, and the only thins they
would cheerfully have e&tradited to that country were cholera and the "u"onic plaue. A private (et awaited the three at the tiny
airport. 6assports duly stamped, Mulhooney and his friends filed a fliht plan for ?uatemala.
0ome hours later they arrived at the 'ouston International Airport. With much of the ten million dollars still remainin at his
disposal, 5ron!$ite was not the man to worry a"out incidental e&penses. Mulhooney and his friends immediately hired a lon!rane
helicopter and set out for the ?ulf.
In the fourth hour of his sleep, which had remained undistur"ed "y the sound of a considera"le underwater e&plosion, Lord Worth
was unpleasantly awa$ened "y a call from a seethinly mad 5ron$ite, who accused him of $illin two more of his men and warned
that he was oin to e&tract a fearful veneance. Lord Worth hun up without "otherin to reply, sent for Mitchell and learned that
5ron$ite had indeed made another attempt to sa"otae the western le. The depth chare had apparently done everythin e&pected
of it, for their searchlihts had pic$ed up the "odies of two divers floatin on the surface. The craft that had "een carryin them
could not have "een seriously damaed for they had heard the sound of its diesels startin up. Instead of ma$in a straiht escape, it
had disappeared under the ri, and "y the time they had crossed to the other side of the 0eawitch it was lon one into the dar$ness
and rain. Lord Worth smiled happily and went "ac$ to sleep.
In the fifth hour of his sleep he would not have "een smilin )uite so happily if he had "een aware of certain strane activities that
were ta$in place in a remote Louisiana motel, one e&clusively owned "y Lord Worth himself. 'ere it was that the 0eawitchAs relief
crews spent their time off in the strictest seclusion. In addition to a"undant food, drin$, films, T; and a hih!class "ordello, it
offered every amenity off!duty oil!ri men could ever have wished for. /ot that any of them would have wanted to leave the
compound ates anyway. nine out of ten of them were wanted "y the law, and total privacy was a paramount re)uirement.
The intruders, some twenty in all, arrived in the middle of the niht. They were led "y a man named ?reson. of all 5ron$iteAs
associates, he was "y far the most danerous and lethal and was possessed of the morality and instincts of a fer!de!lance with a
toothache. The motel staff were all asleep and were chloroformed "efore they had any opportunity of reainin consciousness.
The ri relief crew, also, were all asleep "ut in a somewhat different fashion and for different reasons. Li)uor is for"idden on oil
ris, and the relief crews on the niht "efore returnin to duty enerally made the "est of their last chance. Their dormant states
raned from the merely "efuddled to the paralytic. The roundin up of them, most of whom remained still asleep on their feet, too$
no more than five minutes. The only two relatively so"er mem"ers of the relief crew tried to offer resistance. ?reson, with a
silenced :eretta, unned them down as if they had "een wild dos.
The captives were transported in a completely standard, al"eit temporarily purloined, movin van to an a"andoned and very
isolated warehouse on the outs$irts of town. 0omewhat less than salu"rious, it was perfectly fitted for ?resonAs purpose. The
prisoners were neither "ound nor aed, which would have "een pointless in the presence of two armed uards who carried the
customary intimidatin machine car"ines. In point of fact, the car"ines too were superfluous. the "esotted captives had already
drifted off into a dreamless slum"er.
It was in the si&th hour of Lord WorthAs e)ually dreamless slum"er that ?reson and his men lifted off in one of Lord WorthAs
helicopters. The two pilots had "een reluctant to accept them as passeners, "ut 0chmeissers are powerfully persuasive aents.
It was in the seventh hour of Lord WorthAs slum"er that Mulhooney and his two colleaues touched down on the empty helipad of
the ?eoria. As 5ron$iteAs own helicopter was temporarily marooned on the 0eawitch, he had no compunction in impoundin "oth
the helicopter and its hapless pilot.
At almost e&actly the same moment another
helicopter touched down on the 0eawitch and a solitary passener and pilot emered. The passener was 8r. ?reenshaw, and he
loo$ed, and was, a very tired elderly man. 'e went straiht to the sic$ "ay and, without even tryin to remove his clothes, lay down
on one of the cots and composed himself for sleep. 'e should, he supposed, have reported to Lord Worth that his dauhter Melinda
and Dohn Roomer were in ood hands and ood shape, "ut ood news could wait.
On the eihth hour, with the dawn in the s$y, Lord Worth, a man who en(oyed his sleep, awo$e, stretched himself lu&uriously,
pulled on his splendidly em"roidered dressin own and strolled out onto the platform. The rain had stopped, the sun was tippin the
hori#on and there was every promise of a "eautiful day to come. 6rivately conratulatin himself on his prescience that no trou"le
would occur durin the niht, he retired to his )uarters to perform his customary and leisurely mornin a"lutions.
Lord WorthAs self!conratulations on his prescience were entirely premature. *ifteen minutes earlier the radio operator, newly
returned to duty, had pic$ed up a news "roadcast that he didnAt li$e at all and one straiht to MitchelTs room. Li$e every man on
"oard, even includin Larsen and 6alermo, he $new that the man to contact in an emerency was Mitchell. the thouht of alertin
Lord Worth never entered his head.
'e found Mitchell shavin. Mitchell loo$ed tired+less than surprisin, as he had spent most of the niht awa$e. Mitchell said.
,/o more trou"le, I hope@-
,I donAt $now.- 'e handed Mitchell a strip of teletype. It read. ,Two tactical nuclear weapons stolen from the /etley Rowan
Arsenal yesterday afternoon. Intellience suspects they are "ein flown or helicoptered south over ?ulf of Me&ico to an un$nown
destination. A worldwide alert has "een issued. Anyone a"le to provide information should+-
,DesusF ?et hold of this arsenal any way you can. <se Lord WorthAs name. :e with you in a minute.-
Mitchell was with him in half a minute. The operator said. ,IAm throuh already. /ot much co!operation, thouh.-
,?ive me that phone. My nameAs Mitchell WhoAs spea$in, please@-
,5olonel 6ryce.- The tone wasnAt e&actly distant, (ust a senior officer tal$in to a civilian.
,I wor$ for Lord Worth. You can chec$ that with the *ort Lauderdale 6olice, the 6entaon or the 0ecretary of 0tate.- 'e said to
the operator "ut loudly enouh that 6ryce could hear. ,?et Lord Worth here. I donAt care if heAs in Ms damned "ath, (ust et him here
now.- :ac$ on the phone, he said. ,5olonel 6ryce, an officer of your rade should $now that Lord WorthAs dauhters have "een
$idnaped. I was hired to recover them and I did so. More important, this oil ri, the 0eawitch, is now under threat of destruction.
Two attempts have already "een made. They were unsuccessful. The 6entaon will confirm that theyAve stopped three forein
warships headed here for the purpose of destroyin the 0eawitch. I "elieve those nu$es weapons are headin this way. I want full
information a"out them and Til warn you that Worth will interpret any failure to provide this information as a ross dereliction of
duty. And you $now the clout that Lord Worth has.-
There was a far from su"tle chane in 5olonel 6ryceAs tone. ,ItAs )uite unnecessary to threaten me.-
,Dust a minute. Lord WorthAs (ust arrived.- Mitchell ave a "rief resume of his phone conversation, ma$in sure that 6ryce could
hear every word.
,/uclear "loody "om"sF ThatAs why 5ron$ite said he could "last us out of the waterF- Lord Worth snatched the phone from
Mitchell. ,Worth here. I have a hotline to the 0ecretary of 0tate, 8r. :enton. I could patch him in in fifteen seconds. 8o you want
me to do that@-
,That will not "e necessary, Lord Worth.-
,Then ive us a detailed description of those damned thins and tell us how they wor$.-
6ryce, almost eaerly, ave the description. It was almost precisely similar to the one that 5aptain Martin had iven to the "ous
5olonel *ar)uharson. ,:ut Martin was a new officer and sha$y on his details. The nuclear devices+you can hardly call them "om"s
+are pro"a"ly twice as effective as he said. They too$ the wron type +those devices have no "lac$ "utton to shut off in
emerency. And they have a ninety!minute settin, not si&ty. And they can "e radio!activated.-
,0omethin complicated@ I mean, a ;'6 num"er or somethin of the $ind@-
,0omethin very uncomplicated. You canAt e&pect a soldier in the heat of "attle to remem"er a"struse num"ers. ItAs simply a pear!
shaped device with a plastic seal. 0trip that off and turn a "lac$ switch throuh three hundred and si&ty derees. ItAs important to
remem"er that turnin this switch off will deactivate the detonatin mechanism in the device. It can "e turned on aain at any time.-
,If it should "e used aainst us ... we have a hue oil!storae tan$ near"y. WouldnAt this cause a massive oil slic$@-
,0ir+oil is "y nature com"usti"le and much more easily vapori#ed than steel.-
,Than$ you.-
,0eems to me you need a s)uadron of super!sonic fihter!"om"ers out there. IAll relay the re)uest, "ut theyAll have to et 6entaon
permission first.-
,Than$ you aain.-
Lord Worth and Mitchell left for the formerAs )uarters. Lord Worth said. ,Two thins. WeAre only assumin, althouh it would "e
danerous not to assume, that those damned thins are meant for us. :esides, if we $eep our radar, sonar and sensory posts manned I
donAt see how 5ron!$ite could approach and deliver them.-
,ItAs hard to see how. :ut then, itAs harder to fiure out that "astardAs turn of mind.-
*rom Lord WorthAs helicopter ?reson made contact with the ?eoria. ,WeAre fifteen miles out.-
5ron$ite himself replied, ,WeAll "e air"orne in ten.-
A wall radio crac$led in Lord WorthAs room. ,'elicopter approachin from the northeast.-
,/o sweat. Relief crew.-
Lord Worth had one "ac$ to his shower when the relief helicopter touched down. Mitchell was in his la"oratory, loo$in very
professional in his white coat and lasses. 8r. ?reenshaw was still asleep.
Apart from ain and manaclin the pilots, the helicopter passeners had offered them no violence. They disem"ar$ed in )uiet
and orderly fashion. The drill duty crew o"served their arrival without any particular interest. They had "een well!trained to mind
their own "usiness and had hihly personal reasons for not fraterni#in with un$nowns. And the new arrivals were un$nowns. Off
the coast Lord Worth owned no fewer than nine oil ris+all leally leased and paid for+ and for reasons "est $nown to his devious
self he was in the ha"it of reularly rotatin his drill crews. The new arrivals carried the standard shoulder!slun clothes"as. Those
"as did indeed contain a minimal amount of clothes, "ut not clothin desined to "e worn. the clothes were there merely to conceal
and muffle the shape of the machine pistols and other more deadly weapons in the "as.
Than$s to the instructions he had received from 5ron$ite via 8urand, ?reson $new e&actly where to o. 'e noted the presence
of two idly patrollin uards and mar$ed them down for death.
'e led his men to the oriental )uarters, where they laid their "as on the platform and un#ipped them. Windows were smashed and
what followed was sheer savae massacre. Within half a do#en seconds of machine!un fire, "a#oo$a fire and incineratin
flamethrowers, all of which had "een preceded "y a flurry of tear!as "om"s, all screamin inside had ceased. The two advancin
uards were mown down even as they drew their uns. The only survivor was Larsen, who had "een in his own private room in the
"ac$. 6alermo and all his men were dead.
*iures appeared almost at the same instant from the )uarters at the end of the "loc$. 0oundproofed thouh those )uarters were,
the noise outside had "een too penetratin not to "e heard. There were four of them+two men in white coats, a man in a Dapanese
$imono and a "lac$!haired uard in a wrap. One of ?resonAs men fired twice at the nearest white!coated fiure, and Mitchell
staered and fell "ac$ward to the dec$. ?reson "rutally smashed the wrist of the man who had fired, who screamed in aony as
the un fell from his shattered hand.
,You "astard idiotF- ?resonAs voice was as vicious as his appearance. ,The hard men only, Mr. 5ron$ite said.-
?reson was nothin if not orani#ed. 'e detailed five roups of two men. One roup herded the drillin!ri crew into the
occidental )uarters. The second, third and fourth went respectively to the sensory room, the sonar room and the radar room. There
they tied up "ut did not otherwise harm the operators, "efore they riddled all the e)uipment with a "urst of machine!un "ullets. *or
all practical purposes, the 0eawitch was now "lind, deaf and "enum"ed. The fifth roup went to the radio room, where the operator
was tied up "ut his e)uipment left intact 8r. ?reenshaw approached ?reson. ,You are the leader@-
BTm a doctor.- 'e nodded to Mitchell, whose white coat accentuated the stains Xfcf his "lood and was rollin a"out in a
convincin manner, Marina "endin over him with "itter tears rollin down her chee$s. ,'eAs hurt "ad. I must ta$e him into the sic$
"ay and patch him up.-
,We ot no )uarrel with you,- ?reson said, which was, unwittinly, the most foolish remar$ heAd ever made.
8r. ?reenshaw helped the wea$ and staerin Mitchell into the sic$ "ay, where, the door closed "ehind him, he made an
immediate and remar$a"le recovery. Marina stared at him in astonishment, then in somethin approachin relieved ire.
,Why, you deceivin ...-
,ThatAs no way to tal$ to a wounded man.- 'e was pullin off his white coat, coat and shirt. =Tve never seen you cry "efore.
Ma$es you loo$ even more "eautiful. And thatAs real "lood.- 'e turned to 8r. ?reenshaw. ,0uperficial wound on the left shoulder, a
scratch on the riht forearm. 8ead!eye 8ic$ himself. /ow do a real ood (o" on me, 8oc. Riht arm "andaed from el"ow to wrist.
Left arm "andaed from shoulder to a"ove the el"ow with a reat "i slin. Marina, even ravishin "eauties li$e you carry face
powder. I hope youAre no e&ception.-
/ot yet mollified, she said stiffly. ,I have some. :a"y powder,- she added nastily.
,?et it, please.-
*ive minutes later, Mitchell had "een rendered into the epitome of the wal$in wounded. 'is riht arm was heavily "andaed and
his left arm was swathed in white from shoulder to wrist. The slin was voluminous. 'is face was very pale. 'e left for his room and
returned a few seconds later.
,Where have you "een@- she as$ed suspiciously.
'e reached inside the depths of the slin and pulled out his silenced .E4. ,*ully loaded.- 'e returned it to its hidin place, where
it was )uite invisi"le.
,/ever ive up, do you@- 'er voice held a curious mi&ture of awe and "itterness.
,/ot when IAm a"out to "e vapori#ed.-
8r. ?reenshaw stared at him. ,What do you mean@-
,Our friend 5ron$ite has heisted a couple of !tactical nuclear weapons. 'e plans to finish off the 0eawitch in *ourth of Duly style.
'e should "e here a"out now. /ow, 8oc, I want you to do somethin for me. Ta$e the "iest medical "a you have and tell
?reson that it is your humanitarian duty to o into the occidental )uarters to help any of the dyin, or, if necessary, put them out of
their aony. I $now theyAve ot a fair supply of hand renades in there. I want some.-
,/o sooner said than done. ?od, you loo$ awfulF 8estroys my faith in myself as a doctor.-
They went outside. 5ron$iteAs helicopter was indeed (ust touchin down. 5ron$ite himself was the first out, followed "y
Mulhooney, the three "ous officers who had stolen the nuclear weapons, the commandeered pilot and, lastly, 9aston. 9aston was
the un$nown )uantity. Mitchell did not appreciate it at the time "ut 9astonAs 0tarliht had "een so "adly damaed "y the depth
chare that it was no loner servicea"le. Less than four miles away what appeared to "e a coast uard cutter was headin straiht for
the 0ea!witch. It re)uired no uessin to reali#e that this was the missin 'ammond, the infamous Ti"uron, the present ?eoria.
8r. ?reenshaw approached ?reson. RTd li$e to have a loo$ at what youAve left of those )uarters. May"e thereAs someone still
alive in there . . .-
?reson pointed to an iron door. 1Tm more interested in whoAs in there. 0picer-+this to one of his men+-a "a#oo$a shot at that
AThatAs hardly necessary,- ?reenshaw said mildly. ,A $noc$ from me is all thatAs needed. ThatAs 5ommander Larsen, the "oss of
the oil ri. 'eAs no enemy of yours. 'e (ust sleeps here "ecause he li$es his privacy.- 8r. ?reenshaw $noc$ed. ,5ommander Larsen,
ifs o$ay. ItAs me, ?reenshaw. 5ome on out If you donAt, thereAre some people whoAre oin to "last your door down and you with it.
5ome on, man.-
There was the turnin of a heavy $ey and Larsen emered. 'e loo$ed da#ed, almost shell!shoc$ed, as well he miht. 'e said.
,What the hell oes on@-
,YouAve "een ta$en over, friend,- ?reson said. Larsen was dressed, ?reenshaw was pleased to note, in a voluminous
lum"er(ac$et cinched at the waist. ,0earch him.- They searched and found nothin.
,WhereAs 0coffield@- Larsen said. ?reenshaw said. ,In the other )uarters. 'e should "e o$ay.- ,6alermo@-
,8ead. And all his men. At least I thin$ so. IAm (ust oin to have a loo$.- 0toopin his shoulders to loo$ more nearly eihty than
seventy, 8r. ?reenshaw sham"led alon the shattered corridor, "ut he could have saved himself the trou"le of actin. ?reson had
(ust met 5ron$ite outside the doorway and the two men ,were tal$in in animated and clearly self!conratulatory terms.
After the first few steps, ?reenshaw reali#ed that there could "e no"ody left alive in that charnel house. Those who were dead
were very dead indeed, most of them destroyed "eyond reconition, either cut up "y machine!un fire, shattered "y "a#oo$as or
shriveled "y the fiame!throwers. :ut he did find the primary reason of his visit+a "o& of hand renades in prime condition and a
couple of 0chmeisser su"automatics, fully loaded. A few of the renades he stuffed into the "ottom of his medical "a. 'e peered
out one of the shattered windows at the "ac$ and found the area "elow in deep shadow. 'e carefully lowered some renades to the
platform and the two 0chmeissers "eside them. Then he made his way outside aain.
It was apparent that 5ron$ite and Lord Worth had already met, althouh the meetin could not have "een a normal one. Lord
Worth was lyin apparently senseless on his "ac$, "lood flowin from smashed lips and apparently "ro$en nose, while "oth chee$s
were "adly "ruised. Marina was "endin over him, dau"in at his wounds with a flimsy hand$erchief. 5ron$ite, his face unmar$ed
"ut his $nuc$les "leedin, had apparently, for the moment at least, lost interest in Lord Worth, no dou"t waitin until Lord Worth
had reained full consciousness "efore startin in on him aain.
Lord Worth whispered "etween smashed lips. ,0orry, my darlin% sorry, my "eloved. My fault and all my fault. The end of the
,Yes.- 'er voice was as low as his own, "ut stranely there were no tears in her eyes. ,:ut not for us. /ot while Michael is
Lord Worth loo$ed at Michael throuh rapidly closin eyes. ,What can a cripple li$e that do@-
0he said )uietly "ut with utter conviction. ,'eAll $ill 5ron$ite and his whole mo".-
'e tried to smile throuh his smashed lips. ,I thouht you hated $illin.-
,/ot vermin. /ot people who do thins li$e this to you.-
Mitchell spo$e )uietly to 8r. ?reenshaw, then "ot' men approached 5ron$ite and ?reson, who "ro$e off what appeared to "e
either a discussion or an arument. 8r. ?reenshaw said. ,YouAve done your damn murderous wor$ all too well, ?reson. ThereAs
hardly a soul hi there even reconi#a"le as a human "ein.-
5ron$ite said. ,WhoAs he@-
,A doctor.-
5ron$ite loo$ed at Mitchell, who was loo$in worse "y the minute, ,And this@-
,A scientist. 0hot "y mista$e.-
,'eAs in reat pain,- ?reenshaw said. ,*ve no I!ray e)uipment, "ut I suspect the armAs "ro$en (ust "elow the shoulder.-
5ron$ite was almost (ovial, the (oviality of a man now almost detached from reality. ,An hour from now he wonAt "e feelin a
?reenshaw said wearily. ,I donAt $now what you mean. I want to ta$e him "ac$ to the sic$ "ay and ive him a pain!$illin
,Why, sure. I want everyone to "e fully prepared for whatAs a"out to happen.-
,And whatAs that@-
,Later, later.-
?reenshaw and the unsteady Mitchell moved off. They reached the sic$ "ay, passed inside, went throuh the opposite side and
made their uno"served way to the radio room. ?reenshaw stood uard (ust inside the door while Mitchell, inorin the "ound
operator, went straiht to the transceiver. 'e raised the Roamer inside twenty seconds.
,?ive me 5aptain 5onde.-
,On your ne&t circuit out to the oil tan$ et around "ehind it, then head south at full speed. The 0eawitch has "een ta$en over, "ut
IAm sure thereAs no"ody here who can operate the antiaircraft uns. 0top at twenty miles and issue a eneral warnin to all ships and
aircraft not to approach within twenty miles of the 0eawitch. You have its co!ordinates.-
,Yes. :ut why+-
,:ecause thereAs oin to "e a mihty "i "an. 5hristAs sa$e, donAt arue.-
,8onAt arue a"out what@- a voice "ehind Mitchell said.
Mitchell turned round slowly. The man "ehind the pistol was smilin a smile that somehow lac$ed a enuine warmth. ?reenshaw
had "een pushed to one side and the un moved in a slow arc coverin them "oth. ,I ot a hunch ?resoa would li$e to see you
Mitchell rose, turned, half!staered and clutched his riht forearm inside the slin. ?reenshaw said sharply. ,?odAs sa$e, man,
canAt you see heAs ill@-
The man lanced at ?reenshaw for (ust a second, "ut a second was all that Mitchell re)uired. The "ullet from the silenced .E4 too$
the unman throuh the heart. Mitchell peered throuh the doorway. There was a fair deree of shadow there, no one in siht and the
ede of the platform not more than twenty feet away. A few seconds later the dead man vanished over the ede. Mitchell and
?reenshaw returned to the main "ody of the company via the sic$ "ay. 5ron$ite and ?reson were still in deep discussion. Larsen
stood some distance apart, apparently in a state of profound de(ection. ?reenshaw approached him and said )uietly. ,'ow do you
,'ow would you feel if you $new they intended to $ill us all@-
,YouAll feel "etter soon. Round the "ac$ of the "uildin, when you et the chance, youAll find some hand renades which should
rest comforta"ly inside that lum"er(ac$et of yours. YouAll also find two loaded 0chmeissers. I have a few renades in my "a here.
And Mitchell has his .E4 inside his slin.-
Larsen too$ care not to show his feelins. 'e loo$ed as morose as ever. All he said was. ,:oy, oh "oy, oh "oy.-
Lord Worth was on his feet now, supported "y his dauhter. Mitchell (oined them. ,'ow do you feel@-
Lord Worth mouthed his words with understanda"le "itterness. ,IAm in reat shape.G
,YouAll feel "etter soon.- 'e lowered his voice and spo$e to Marina. ,When I ive the word, say you want to o to the ladiesA
room. :ut donAt o there. ?o to the enerator room. YouAll see a red lever there mar$ed A8ec$ Lihts.A 6ull it down. After you count
twenty, throw it "ac$ on aain.-
5ron$ite and ?reson appeared to have finished their discussion. *rom 5ron$iteAs smile it appeared that his view had prevailed.
Lord Worth, Marina, Larsen, ?reenshaw and Mitchell stood toether, a forlorn and huddled roup. *acin them were the ran$s of
5ron$ite, Mul!hooney, 9aston, and the "ous 5olonel *ar)u!harson, Lieutenant!5olonel 8ewins, Ma(or :rec$ley, ?reson and his
$illers, a formida"le roup and armed to the teeth.
5ron$ite spo$e to a man "y his side. ,5hec$.-
The man lifted a wal$ie!tal$ie, spo$e into it and nodded. 'e said to 5ron$ite. ,5hares secured in position.-
,9&cellent. Teh> them to o due north for twenty miles and stay there.- This was done. <nfortunately for 5ron$ite, his view to the
west was "loc$ed "y the shattered "uildin "ehind him and he could not see that the Roomer was already proceedin steadily to the
5ron$ite smiled. ,Well, Worth, itAs the end of the road for "oth you and the 0eawitch.- 'e du into a poc$et and produced a "lac$
pear!shaped metal container. ,This is a radioactive detonatin device. /ote this small switch here. ItAs supposed to "e ood for si&ty
minutes, "ut I have already run off ten minutes of it. *ifty more minutes and poof. the 0eawitch, you, Worth, and everyone a"oard
will "e vapori#ed. /o"odyAs oin to feel a thin, I assure you.-
,You mean you intend to $ill all my innocent employees a"oard the ri@ 5ron$ite, you are star$ ravin mad.-
,/ever saner. 5anAt have any witnesses left to identify us. Then we destroy two of the helicopters, cripple your derric$ crane,
smash your radio room and ta$e off in the other two helicopters. You could, of course, fiure on (umpin into the ?ulf, "ut your
chances of survival would "e a"out the same as a suicide (umpin off the ?olden ?ate :ride.-
Mitchell nuded Marina. 0he said in a faint voice. ,May I o to the ladiesA room@-
5ron$ite was (oviality itself. , A5ourse. :ut ma$e it snappy.-
*ifteen seconds later the dec$ lihts went out.
In the end it was Mitchell, with his e&traordinary capacity to see in the dar$, who ran round the corner of the shattered "uildin,
retrieved the two 0chmeissers+he didnAt "other a"out the renades+returned and thrust one into LarsenAs hands. In eiht seconds
two men with su"machine uns can achieve an e&traordinary amount of carnae. Larsen was firin "lind "ut Mitchell could see and
pic$ out his tarets. They were helped in a most hapha#ard fashion "y 8r. ?reenshaw, who flun renades at random, inflictin even
more damae on the already shattered "uildin "ut not actually in(urin anyone.
The lihts came on aain.
There were still seven people left alive+5ron!$ite, Mulhooney, 9aston, ?reson and three of his men. To those seven Mitchell
said. ,All riht, drop your uns.- 0hattered and stunned thouh the survivors were, they still had enouh wits left to comply at once.
Marina arrived "ac$ and was promptly sic$ in a very unladyli$e fashion.
Mitchell put down his 0chmeisser and advanced on 5ron$ite. ,?ive me that detonatin device.-
5ron$ite removed it slowly from his poc$et and lifted his arm preparatory to throwin it over the side. Whatever else, it would
have meant the destruction of the 0eawitch. 5ron$ite screamed in aony as the "ullet from MitchelTs .E4 shattered his riht el"ow.
Mitchell cauht the detonatin device even "efore it could reach the dec$.
'e said to Larsen. ,Are there two a"solutely secure places, with no windows and iron doors, which can "e loc$ed without any
possi"ility of openin them from the inside@-
,Dust two. 0afe as *ort Hno& vaults. Alon here.-
,0earch these uys and search them thorouhly. Ma$e sure they havenAt even ot a pen$nife.-
Larsen searched. ,/ot even a pen$nife.- 'e led them to a steel!reinforced cell!li$e structure and he and Mitchell ushered them
In spite of his aony, 5ron$ite said. ,YouAre not oin to leave us in here, for ?odAs sa$eF-
,0ame as you were oin to leave us.- Mitchell paused, then added soothinly. ,As you said, you wonAt feel a thin.- 'e closed
the door, dou"le!loc$ed it and put the $ey in his poc$et. 'e said to Larsen. ,The other cell@-
,Alon here.-
,This is madnessF- Lord WorthAs voice was almost a shout. ,The 0eawitch is safe now. Why in ?odAs name destroy it@-
Mitchell inored him. 'e lanced at the timin device on the detonator. ,Twenty!nine minutes to o. WeAd "etter move.- 'e
placed the device on the floor of the cell, loc$ed the door and sent the $ey spinnin far out over the ?ulf. ,?et the men out of the
occidental "uildins, and out of the sensory, radar, sonar and radio rooms and ma$e sure that all the helicopter pilots are safe.- 'e
laaced at his watch. ,Twenty!five minutes.-
9veryone moved with alacrity e&cept for Lord Worth, who merely stood with a stunned loo$ on his face. Larsen said. ,8o we
need this mad rush@-
Mitchell said mildly. ,'ow do we $now that the settins on that detonator are accurate@-
The mad rush redou"led itself. Thirteen minutes "efore the deadline the last of the helicopters too$ off and headed south. The first
to land on the RoomerAs helipad held Mitchell, Larsen, Lord Worth and his dauhter, in addition to the doctor and several ri men,
while the other helicopters still hovered overhead. They were still only a"out fourteen miles south of the 0eawitch, which was as far
as the Roamer had succeeded in ettin. :ut Mitchell rec$oned the marin of safety more than sufficient. 'e spo$e to 5onde, who
assured him that every vessel and aircraft had "een warned to $eep as far away as possi"le from the daner area.
When the 0eawitch "lew up, dead on schedule, it did so with a spectacular effect that would have satisfied even the most houlish.
There was even a miniature mushroom cloud such as the pu"lic had "ecome accustomed to in the photoraphs of detonatin atom
"om"s. 0eventeen seconds later, those on the Roamer heard the thunderclap of sound, and shortly afterward a series of miniature "ut
harmless tidal waves roc$ed "ut did not unduly distur" the Roamer.
After Mitchell had told 5onde to "roadcast the news to all aircraft and shippin, he turned to find a stony!faced Marina
confrontin him.
,Well, youAve lost 8addy his 0eawitch. I do hope youAre satisfied with yourself.-
,My, my, how "itter we are. Yes, itAs a satisfactory (o", even if I have to say it myself. o"viously no"ody else is oin to.-
,Why@ Why@ Why@-
,9very man who died there was a murderer, some of them mass murderers. They miht have ot away to countries with no
e&tradition treaties with us. 9ven if they were cauht, their cases miht have draed on for years. It would have "een very difficult
to et proof. And, of course, parole after a few years. This way, we $now theyAll never $ill aain.-
,And it was worth it to destroy 8addyAs pride and (oy@-
,Listen, stupid. My father!in!law!to!"e is+-
,That heAll never "e.- 0he was larin at him.
,0o o$ay. The old pirate is almost as "i a croo$ as any of them. 'e associated with and hired for lethal purposes $nown
criminals. 'e "ro$e into two federal arsenals and mounted the e)uipment on the 0eawitch. If the 0eawitch had survived, federal
investiators would have "een a"oard in an hour or so. 'eAd have ot at least fifteen to twenty years hi prison, and heAd pro"a"ly
have died in prison.- /ow her eyes were wide, with fear and understandin. ,:ut now every last "it of evidence is at the "ottom of
the ?ulf. /othin can ever "e traced aainst him.-
,ThatAs really why you vapori#ed the 0ea!witch@-
'e eyed her affectionately. ,Why should I admit anythin to an e&!fiancee@-
,Mrs. Michael Mitchell.- 0he mused. ,I suppose I could o throuh life with a worse name.-