Authors: Jeffrey Archer
MMA ALWAYS TOOK
a second look at any vessel that flew the Canadian flag from its stern. She would then check the name on the hull before her heartbeat
would return to normal.
When she looked this time, her heartbeat almost doubled and her legs nearly buckled under her. She double-checked; not a name she was ever likely to forget. She stood and watched the two little
tugs steaming up the estuary, black smoke billowing from their funnels as they piloted the rusting old cargo ship towards its final destination.
She changed direction, but as she made her way to the breakers’ yard, she couldn’t help wondering about the possible consequences of trying to find out the truth after all these
years. Surely it would be more sensible just to go back to her office rather than rake over the past . . . the distant past.
But she didn’t turn back, and when she reached the yard Emma headed straight for the chief ganger’s office, as if she were simply carrying out her usual morning rounds. She stepped
into the railway carriage and was relieved to find that Frank wasn’t there, just a secretary typing away. She stood the moment she saw the chairman.
‘I’m afraid Mr Gibson isn’t here, Mrs Clifton. Shall I go and look for him?’
‘No, that won’t be necessary,’ said Emma. She glanced at the large booking chart on the wall, only to have her worst fears confirmed. The SS
scheduled for breaking up and work was to begin on Tuesday week. At least that gave her a little time to decide whether to alert Harry or, like Nelson, turn a blind eye. But if Harry found out the
had returned to its graveyard and asked her if she’d known about it, she wouldn’t be able to lie to him.
‘I’m sure Mr Gibson will be back in a few minutes, Mrs Clifton.’
‘Don’t worry, it’s not important. But would you ask him to drop in and see me when he’s next passing my office?’
‘Can I tell him what it’s about?’
Karin looked out of the window at the countryside rushing by as the train continued on its journey to Truro. But her thoughts were elsewhere as she tried to come to terms with
the baroness’s death.
She hadn’t been in touch with Cynthia Forbes-Watson for several months, and MI6 had made no attempt to replace her as Karin’s handler. Had they lost interest in her? Cynthia had
given her nothing of any significance to pass on to Pengelly for some time, and their tea-room meetings had become less and less frequent.
Pengelly had hinted that it wouldn’t be long before he expected to return to Moscow. It couldn’t be soon enough for her. She was sick of deceiving Giles, the only man she’d
ever loved, and was tired of travelling down to Cornwall on the pretence of visiting her father. Pengelly wasn’t her father but her stepfather. She loathed him. She’d prayed her mother
wouldn’t marry him. But once her mother became Mrs Pengelly, Karin quickly realized she could use the petty party official to escape a regime she despised even more than she despised him, if
that was possible. And then she’d met Giles Barrington, who’d made it all possible by falling in love with her.
Karin hated not being able to tell Giles the real reason she had tea at the House of Lords with the baroness so often. Now that Cynthia was dead, she would no longer have to live a lie. But when
Giles discovered the truth, would he believe she’d escaped the tyranny of East Berlin only because she wanted to be with him? Had she lied once too often?
As the train pulled into Truro, she prayed it was for the last time.
‘How many years have you worked for the company, Frank?’ asked Emma, looking up from her desk.
‘Nigh on forty, ma’am. Served your father, and your grandfather before him.’
‘So you’ll have heard the story of the
‘Before my time, ma’am, but everyone in the yard is familiar with the tale, though few ever speak of it.’
‘I have a favour to ask, Frank. Could you put together a small gang of men who can be trusted?’
‘I’ve two brothers and a cousin who’ve never worked for anyone else but Barrington’s.’
‘They’ll need to come in on a Sunday, when the yard is closed. I’ll pay them double time, in cash, and there will be an incentive bonus of the same amount in twelve
months’ time, but only if I’ve heard nothing of the work they carried out that day.’
‘Very generous, ma’am,’ said Frank, touching the peak of his cap.
‘When will they be able to start?’
‘Next Sunday morning. The yard’ll be closed until Tuesday, Monday being a bank holiday.’
‘You do realize you haven’t asked me what it is I want you to do?’
‘No need to, ma’am. And if we find what you’re lookin’ for in the double bottom, what then?’
‘I ask no more than that the remains of Arthur Clifton should be given a Christian burial.’
‘And if we find nothing?’
‘Then it will be a secret the five of us take to our graves.’