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The Eagle Chronicles 28: Busman's Holiday

Title: Busman's Holiday
Series: The Eagle Chronicles.
Word Count 7317
Summary Steven tries to get away from it all and realizes he can't





28. Busman's Holiday


May 1958

Greenwich, Connecticut. It hadn't changed all that much since he was here last, about ten years ago. He picked up his army duffel bag from the platform and headed for his cousin's house. The town was a bit busier and there was a sign in the train station saying that the town was once the home of Steven Taylor. He was smiling when a young girl about ten years old came up to him. "Want me to show you where he lived, mister? My mum runs the boarding house. You c'n stay there."

"That would be nice, thanks." He put his duffel over his shoulder and followed the girl.

"You're not from around here, are you?"

"No, but I've visited before."

"What's your name?"

"James."

"I like your voice. It sounds nice."

"Thanks."

She turned onto a side street. "Short cut," she explained.

Up ahead he could see the roof of quite a large house. As he got closer, he saw that it was an old house, possibly built at the turn-of-the-century. It was natural shingle covering three floors. It also had a large porch that wrapped around one side and the front with wicker furniture arranged to watch the road. They went in the front door. "Mom!" the girl called. "A man wants a room!"

"Jessie, hon, we don't have any more rooms," came a woman's voice from a different room.

"There was this morning," Jessie protested.

"You forgot about Mrs. Corbett."

The man listened in amusement. He thickened his English accent. "I'm sorry to cause this trouble. If you'd be so kind as to recommend another boarding house of some sort, it would be greatly appreciated."

The woman came out. She was about five-foot-five with brown hair tied back with a scarf. "There's the Pattersons' down the-- Oh, my Lord!" She put her hands to her face in surprise. "I don't believe it!"

"What's wrong, Mom?" asked Jessie with concern.

The man smiled. "It's been a long time, Sheila."

"I still can't believe it. Come into the kitchen for tea."

The girl tagged after her mother. "What's wrong? You're crying."

"I'm crying because I'm happy. This is your cousin James."

James smiled again. "You might know me better by my other name: Steven."

"You're..?"

"Yep. But keep quiet about it. I'm here to relax."

She nodded, eager to please her famous cousin.

"Now go off and play, but remember, not a word." Jessie kissed her mother and ran off. She turned back to Steven. "Are you sure you're telling me everything?"

"Of course. I'm here 'to get away from it all' as the phrase goes. I can avoid the boarders by climbing the tree to my room. If need be, my name will be James Sumner of Bath, England." He sipped his tea.

************************************************

That night after dinner, Steven decided to go jogging. Sheila thought him crazy. "To all appearances, I'll just be an Englishman enjoying the fresh air. I'll be back in about two hours. Ta!"

Steven made his way down the tree outside his room and began to jog down the road. He was on the receiving end of many strange looks, but only because they were unaccustomed to joggers. On his way back from the exclusive neighborhood of Belle Haven, he heard a car come speeding past. He threw himself onto the side on the road. "You nutcase!" he shouted after it. "You could've killed me!" He picked himself up off the ground and was brushing the dirt off his legs when he heard the crash. "Oh, my God!" He ran down the hill faster than he had before. He ignored the blaze as he ran for the car.

He surveyed the land about him and saw that the driver had been thrown clear. Steven knelt beside the man, realizing he was barely alive. The man's eyelids flickered. He saw Steven and mumbled. "Airplanes...crash...reds... win...randolf...stop." He coughed and died.

Steven carefully left the man where he was and headed for the nearest phone. He didn't want to be there when the police and firemen arrived. He reached a phone in town and called the police. "There's a terrible wreck on Horseneck Lane. A man's dead." He hung up the phone and ran back to the house.

He took his shirt off, went into the bathroom, filled the sink with cool water, and submerged his face. It cooled his nerves which were on edge. He had just come up for air when he noticed Sheila standing in the doorway.

"What's happened? I've never seen you look this upset."

She handed him a towel as he sat on a stool. "A man just died in my arms. God, I've never felt this helpless in my life." He patted his face with the towel. "The strange thing is, he was speeding down Horseneck Lane and left a dying message. Six words: airplanes, crash, reds, win, randolf, stop. They've got to have something in common."

"You came here for rest and already you're involved in a mystery."

"I think it's something more." He rubbed his arm where the dead man had gripped it. "That man was terrified. The look on his face told me as much."

"When you say 'something more', do you mean murder?"

"Remembering his face, that's all I can think of." He stood and went back to his room. Sheila followed. "I'm going to make an attempt to decipher this message in the morning, see where I go from there."

"Good night." She kissed him. "Try and get some sleep tonight. Maybe you'll have more information in the morning."

**********************************************

When Steven woke the next morning, he knew exactly what he had to do. He showered, shaved, and dressed in a suit and tie. He went down the backstairs and out the kitchen door. He strode purposefully through town to the police department. "I have information in relation to that accident last night."

The sergeant looked ip from his papers. "The Captain'll want to talk to you himself. If you'll take a seat, he'll be right with you."

The door to the captain's office opened. Steven looked up and saw an elderly man backing out of the office. "That's what I would've done. 'Bye." The man turned to the sergeant. "He's a stubborn one."

"Not as stubborn as you, Haskins," said Steven.

Haskins turned around. "Good Lord! Steven! It's wonderful to see you!" He held out his hand.

Steven shook it. "It's been awhile."

"What're you doing back in town?"

"I came here for a quiet time, but it didn't quite work out. I was there last night when that man crashed."

"You were there? Why didn't you stay?"

"He died in my arms and I was too shook-up. At least I called."

"True. C'mon into the office. You'd better tell Morris all about it."

Captain Morris rose from behind his desk and held out his hand. "It's an honor to meet you. When I first started to follow your 'career', I thought up all these things I'd say if I ever met you. Now I can't think of one."

"Thank you. You do realize that this is the first time I've stepped into this building voluntarily. Even so, it gives me the creeps."

"What's the information you have for us?"

Steven told them everything, including the message. "Randolf could be a name," said Morris.

"The only Randolf I know lives over in Belle Haven. He could be the one."

"He has to be. I think that the brakes were fixed. Otherwise, he wouldn't have sped 'round the curve. He was terrified. Something is definitely going on and I plan to do something about it."

"Like what? You can't just go up to Henry Randolf and accuse him of murder."

"Oh, can't I?" Steven had a conspiratorial smile on his face.

"Fine. We'll just deny everything if you get caught. You'll be on your own, unless, of course, you gather definite proof."

"Isn't that always how it was? Just thought you deserved to know." He thanked them for their "assistance" and left.

At this point, he didn't care if people recognized him. He walked with determination through the town, taking almost the same route as the day before. There were stares and pointing fingers, but no one approached him. The look in his eyes must have warned them away. When he reached the boarding house, he stormed through the front door. "What ignoramuses! They can't see the proof starin' them in the face!" He stopped, realizing that Sheila had company. "Excuse me, ladies. I do apologize for losing my temper."

The women just stared at him. "Would you care for some tea, Mr. Sumner?" asked Sheila.

"Thank you, no. I've a few things to do in my room." Steven went upstairs feeling like he had made a total fool of himself.

As he was about to go into his room, Jessie came out of hers. "Hi."

"Why aren't you with your mother having tea?"

"And have to put on a dress? No way. I'd rather listen to you."

"Oh?"

"Yeah. You must have great stories like defending national secrets and stuff."

"I've never done anything like that. I've mainly solved mysteries."

"Murders?"

"A few." He smiled. "I don't think your mother would approve of me telling you."

"She doesn't mind me reading spy stories."

"Those are stories." An idea came to him. "Let's pretend for a moment. What would you do if a dying man trusted you with a strange message?"

"Try to figure it out and solve the mystery. What's the message?"

"Six words." He repeated them for her.

"Randolf is probably a name. It makes more sense if it goes 'stop Randolf'."

"Good thinking. What about the rest?"

"I'll think it over."

"Give me reports of your progress. It'll be our own game."

"Great!"

Steven went into his room and changed into a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. He decided to visit Randolf's mansion that night. If they (Randolf & Co.) were responsible, they'd talk about it. All he had to do was avoid getting caught.

After dinner he went out again on the premise of jogging. When he reached Belle Haven, he went off the road down a side path running alongside the Randolf estate. He climbed over the fence and crouched in the bushes. He listened carefully and waited for the security to pass. He crept through the shrubbery and made his way to the house. No one was about. He walked quietly to the side. He heard voices and ducked out of sight.

"And what is our purpose, gentlemen?" said a voice.

"But what about Saunders?" asked a second.

"That was most unfortunate, but necessary." Steven assumed that the first voice was Randolf.

"There's word going about in town that it was witnessed by some man," stated a third.

"We shall have to deal with him, then. We must be discreet, however. A second death would attract attention."

"You don't understand, Randolf. The man we're dealing with is--"

"In danger of his life. We must move on to the points of business. The government has approved the prototype and we can start manufacture within the week."

"What about the flaw?" asked yet another voice.

"It's been taken care of."

"I have to tell you that the man we're dealing with is St.--"

Steven tried for a better vantage point but only succeeded in knocking stones loose from the path. "Damn!" He attempted to hide in the shadows, but he was too close to the others. He broke cover and ran for the gate.

Randolf and his associates came out of the house and began to chase him. "Don't let him get past the gate!" The other men pulled out guns and began to shoot.

Steven heard a bullet whiz past his ear. "Lovely." He saw the main gate and the other men there to head him off. He veered right and vaulted over the wall.

Randolf reached the spot too late. "Who was that?"

"That's what I've been trying to tell you. That was Steven Taylor."

"The Steven Taylor? How interesting."

"He's the one that was with Saunders when he died."

"It seems, gentlemen, that we will have to be on our guard. I don't know how much he heard."

*****************************************************************

Steven didn't stop until he reached home. That conversation shed new light on the cryptic message that the man-- Saunders--left. Planes crash. That must have to do with the flaw in the prototype. Randolf stop obviously meant stop Randolf. What could..? "That's it!" he yelled on the front porch. He remembered where he was and quieted down. "If the planes are for the government and they have flaws and crash, the Russians will win!"

He wanted to tell someone of his discovery, but realized that he first had to contact Washington. He knocked on the door to Sheila's room. "Come in."

"Hi. I need to use the phone. Important call."

"Okay. I was going down to make a cup of tea, anyway. Want anything?"

"Not now, thanks." After she left, he pulled a card out of his wallet and dialed the number.

"Central Intelligence Agency. May I help you?"

"Richard Johnson, please."

"One moment, I'll connect you."

Steven heard the phone ring. "C'mon, answer." He told himself to let it ring five more times before hanging up. It was answered on the third ring. "Hello, Rick?"

"Mr. Johnson is on vacation right now. May I help you?"

"When do you expect him back?"

"The day after tomorrow. Is there any message?"

"Just tell him that Sebastian Talbot called from Connecticut. I'll be here for a few more days." Steven gave him the phone number then hung up. Until he heard from Rick, he was on his own.

Sheila knocked on the door. "Wanna talk?"

"Remember what I told you last night? Well, I found out more information. It seems that friend Randolf is purposely manufacturing flawed planes for the government. Saunders--the man who died--wanted to tell the authorities so he was killed. I'm next."

"What was that phone call about?"

"I was trying to get a hold of a friend in the CIA."

"You really think you should call them in?"

"It's a matter of national security. They should at least be notified."

"Was your friend there?"

"No, he's on vacation, but they expect him back the day after tomorrow. I'll just have to work this out myself."

"Dave will be coming back from Hartford tomorrow. Maybe he'll help."

"I don't think your husband ever approved of my gallivanting about. He's a good lawyer, but you know we don't think alike."

"I'm sure he'll help, whether by giving advice or actual running about with you, I don't know, but he will help."

"I'll mention it to him. How's Jessie doing? I haven't been able to talk to her."

"Her friends have found out that you're here. As a matter of fact, all Greenwich knows."

"So that's how they knew it was me. What did Jessie say?"

"Nothing. She didn't know if she should deny or admit it."

"She's real smart. You lucked out."

"What about Jamie? Surely you can't be upset with how he's turned out?"

"Well, that's different. He was already ten when I adopted him, and a developed personality."

"True, but adolescence is the hardest time a child goes through. That's the time when they really need someone."

"And where am I? An ocean away."

"But you've sent him to an excellent school and were willing to give up your life to save his." Steven said nothing. "There, I've proved my point: you a re a good father."

Steven looked at her and gave her a quick hug. "Thanks."

********************************************************

The next morning, Jessie's schoolfriends came early in the hopes of seeing her famous cousin. Normally, Steven would have slept in, but since Dave was coming home, he wanted to present a favorable impression. As he walked Jessie to the door, he asked, "Do you remember that message I gave you?"

She nodded. "I've almost figured it out."

"I'll want a report on it when you get home."

"Yessir." She saluted and walked out the door.

He walked back to the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee. "So, when do you expect your husband home?"

"In about a half hour. He's taking an early train."

"Ah." He went to the refrigerator and took out two eggs. "Want some?" She shook her head. "You're going to have to keep a sharp look-out. They know who I am so they'll know where I'm staying." He began to scramble his eggs in the pan. "Could you put some toast on?" She obliged. "The next move is up to them. I've done all I can for the moment."

The toast popped up and Sheila buttered it for him. "Here's your plate."

"Thanks." He sat down. "I just want you to be careful. If you see anyone hanging about, let me know. If I'm not around, tell Dave."

"Tell Dave what?"

Sheila walked over to her husband. "You're back earlier than I expected." She kissed him.

"No hold-ups in New Haven. Hello, Steven. What're you doing in these parts?" They shook hands.

"I came here for a bit of a vacation. It hasn't worked, though."

Sheila tried to put off the conversation. "Do you want any breakfast?"

"I ate on the train, but I'll have some coffee." He turned back to Steven. "What are you talking about?"

"It's a long story. Do you have the time?"

"Give me the condensed version." He listened patiently throughout the narration and waited until the end before saying anything. "You've really gotten yourself in deep this time, haven't you?"

"I try."

"You were right in calling the CIA. I really don't know what else you should do. I think that all you can do is wait for them to make the next move. If this is as serious as you say, I'll help in any way I can."

"Thanks for the support. I was a bit doubtful that you'd even give it."

"I'll be at the office for most of the day if you want me."

*****************************************************

Steven spent most of the day helping Sheila around the yard. It was mostly jobs for which Dave didn't have the time. They stopped at 2:00. Back in the house, they found themselves alone, all the boarders had gone out. "I'm going to change out of this grubby shirt then come down for a sandwich," said Steven. "What about you?"

"Sounds fabulous."

Steven went up to his room and opened the door. As he did so, he felt a tingling along the back of his neck. Something was wrong. He never found out what it was because he was knocked unconscious from behind.

"C'mon!" called a voice from the stairs. "We've got his cousin!"

"What about him?"

"You remember what Randolf said. Get on with it. I'll be outside."

The man took some rope from his pockets and tied Steven's hands behind his back, then bound his legs together. He searched the bureau and found a handkerchief for a gag. He then dragged Steven into the closet. He made sure all the windows were shut before he tossed something into the wastebasket. He shut the bedroom door and ran downstairs and outside. "Okay, let's go."

They put Sheila in the back of the car and drove off leaving her to wonder what they had done to her cousin.

******************************************************

Jessie's friend Liz was the first to see the smoke. "Jes, your house is on fire!"

Ron went for the firemen, declaring, "I'll be real quick."

The rest went to the house. It hadn't spread and seemed to be isolated to the attic room. "That's James's room!" cried Jessie. She ran into the building.

"Come back, Jes!" cried all the children. Some of the neighbors who had gathered tried to call her back, but to no avail.

Jessie stopped midway up the stairs, grabbed the scarf out of her hair, and tied it over her nose and mouth. Just like Nancy Drew. She made her way to her cousin's room and coughed as the acrid smoke greeted her. She ran and opened a window to clear some of the smoke. She looked around and saw no flames and no Steven. There was a faint knocking that seemed to come from the closet. She opened the door and saw Steven bound and gagged, waiting for someone to let him out. She undid his gag then his bonds, helped him out of the room, down the stairs, and outside. He was weak from being tied up and smoke inhalation.

The firemen had just arrived with Ron riding alongside on the running board. Steven greeted the captain shakily. "It was only a smoke bomb." He coughed. "I was going to my room to change when I was knocked out. I came to in the closet, tied up and breathing smoke." Sudden realization came to him. "Sheila! They've got Sheila!"

"Who're 'they', Cousin James?"

"Remember that message I gave you? Well, it wasn't made up. They came and took your mother and tried to kill me." He turned to the fire captain. "Can I have a lift to Morris' office?"

"Sure. Someone can bandage your head on the way."

"Great. Thanks. Now, Jes, I want you to call your father and tell him I'll be stopping by after I see Captain Morris."

"Okay." She went inside.

"All set." He stood and was a bit shaky on his feet. "Let's get this thing settled." He was helped into the captain's car where a paramedic bandaged his head. It was a little tender, but took a back seat to the problem now at hand.

The firehouse was right behind the police station so he just cut across the parking lot. As he passed Morris's window, he heard a voice he recognized. "You were supposed to keep him elsewhere!"

"If I had discouraged him from going, he would've gotten suspicious. You didn't have to shoot at him!"

Morris was in on it with Randolf! Not in any major capacity, of course, probably just to keep the police from investigating anything that went on in Randolf's neighborhood. Steven kept walking down the street to Dave's office. The hard part would be the explaining.

Dave's secretary let him right in. Dave stood, concerned. "Jessie called and told me you'd be stopping by. I couldn't get much else out of her. What happened?" Steven filled him in. "What's Morris going to do?"

"Nothing."

"What?"

"He's in Randolf's pocket. He's not gonna go against that."

"What are we going to do?"

"You are going to take the rest of the day off and join me in an excursion to the home of Greenwich's finest crooks."

"Do you think she's there?"

"If not, we should be able to find out where."

"Count me in."

They drove up to Randolf's house. Steven had Dave pull up before they reached the main gate. It was wide open. "I definitely do not like the looks of this." They walked carefully inside, expecting a trap. "I really don't like this. Something's wrong."

"They knew you knew about this place, so they moved. They obviously didn't want the police after them."

"And you call yourself a lawyer. Use your head. If they think I'm dead and they've got the locals in their pocket, why bother?" He went up to the house. "Someone--or something--else surprised friend Randolf, otherwise he wouldn't have left. Wherever he is, Sheila's with him."

"Do you think Morris backed out of the deal and offered an ultimatum?"

"From the tone of the conversation, I'd say it was impossible."


Inside the house, they slowly walked about the rooms looking for clues. Steven came upon Randolf's study and immersed himself in the papers on the desk. "Nothing! Only small jottings of no particular value whatsoever!" He slammed his fist on the desktop and a small drawer opened. "A-ha, I spoke too soon." He pulled out a red appointment calendar. "Today is circled in red."

"What?" Dave came in from one of the other rooms.

"He's circled the date. It must be important."

"Does this room smell smoky to you?" Dave sniffed.

"Now that you mention it." Steven turned to the fireplace and sifted through the ashes. "Hallo, there's a bit of paper that's not completely burned." He pulled the crisp paper from the hearth and placed it on the desk. "Parts of it are illegible, but there's enough to see why today is important." He put the paper into the calendar and brought it with him. "Nothing more to do until this evening at the civic center ."

"Would you please tell me what's going on?"

"You'll have to figure it out for yourself because I'm not telling you until tonight."

An unknown car was outside the house when the two arrived home. "Jessie!" called Dave. "We're back!"

"I'm in the kitchen helping Mrs. Putnam with dinner! There's someone in the living room waiting for Cousin James!"

Dave went into the kitchen as Steven walked into the living room. A man rose from one of the chairs. "Rick." He shook his hand. "I thought you weren't due back until tomorrow."

"I am, but I called to check for messages and got yours. It must have been important for you to use an alias."

"Let me tell you about it."

When he was done, Rick looked at him in disbelief. "All that in three days? You must have been busy." He sobered. "Are you sure about that last part?"

"Pretty sure. Want to join in on the fun?"

"I don't think he'd take it seriously unless you had someone representing the government."

"I'll introduce you to Dave, then go have a lie-down because my head is throbbing."

"You'd better. You'll have to be functioning properly to be of any help tonight."

"Thanks," Steven said with a smirk.

******************************************************

That night after dinner, Steven stated he was ready. Dave made sure that Jessie had done all her homework and asked Mrs. Putnam to put her to bed at the proper time. With the family business taken care of, he too, was ready.

"Now, we all remember the plan. Dave, you'll go look for Sheila. Steven, you find Randolf, and I'll talk to the head." Rick got behind the wheel of his car and turned on the ignition.

Dave climbed into the back seat. "You mean the speaker tonight is behind everything?"

"It would be hard for Randolf to handle the international discussions himself without suspicion," Steven said, getting into the front seat. "He needed someone higher up to tell him."

"But...I thought you thought Randolf was going to attempt to assassinate him."

"What would Randolf have to gain by killing him?"

"He's in charge of the armament committee working on new defense planes. He could have discovered the flaws weren't repaired."

"He demanded the flaw." Steven glanced out the window to see where they were. "Turn left up here." He looked back at Dave. "He also has access to the Soviet Embassy. He can talk with personnel at galas without attracting attention."

"I never thought of that."

"I'll pull up beside the auditorium so it won't be so obvious." Rick turned off the engine. "If you can't handle something by yourself, try and get one of the others." They nodded. "Okay, let's go."

All three walked in the stage door with very little hassle. The guard recognized Steven who vouched for Dave and Rick showed his CIA badge. Once inside, each went a different direction. Steven went towards the audience to look for Randolf. Rick went backstage to watch the speaker, and Dave went to search the rooms backstage for Sheila.

Steven seemed to have the hardest chore: to locate one particular person out of a sea of faces. He decided to check n4ear all the doors in case Randolf needed to make a quick exit. He let his eyes "casually" look over the audience, when, in actuality, they were studying each face. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something. He glanced back. There was Randolf with a self-satisfied smirk on his face. Steven sauntered over and bent to whisper in his ear. "Would you mind following me, sir? Someone would like to speak with you backstage."

"Certainly," replied Randolf.

Steven turned his face away before Randolf recognized him. He kept walking after he passed through the door. "Where are you going? The stage is this way."

"Pushing for the limelight, Randolf? You're going to get it, but in a different way."

Randolf didn't like the man's mocking tones. "What's going on? Who are you?"

"Don't you recognize me? You tried to have me killed this afternoon." Steven turned around. "You disappoint me, dear heart."

"Taylor!" He reached in his pocket and pulled out a gun. Steven was unarmed and could do nothing. "You said I'd get the limelight and I will; for killing you!"

A door opened into the hallway knocking the gun from Randolf's hand. "Did I interrupt something? How terribly clumsy of me."

Steven rushed Randolf and grabbed his arms. "Quit hamming and help me tie him up."

Dave nodded and grabbed some rope from a storeroom. "Let's give him a taste of his own medicine." Dave smiled, and, catching on, opened the storeroom door wider. "Enjoy yourself, friend." Steven placed a gag over Randolf's mouth, placed him in the room, and locked the door.

Clapping from the audience brought their attention to the end of the speech. "We'd better check with Rick."

Rick had a perfect view of the speaker. When the speech was over, the man went into the wings and Rick walked straight into him. "Excuse me, Mr. Senator."

"Yes? What do you want? I haven't much time."

"You, sir, are under arrest."

The senator's mouth dropped open. "What are you talking about? Under arrest? What's your name?"

"Richard Johnson, CIA"

The senator ran off-stage , right into the waiting arms of Steven and Dave. "Going already, Senator? Why, we haven't discussed your speech yet." They firmly held onto one arm each and marched him back to Rick.

The senator's personal security men were shocked. They had no idea of what he had been doing. "You haven't got anything on me," he said.

"Wrong, Senator. That escape attempt was an admission of guilt."

"Besides, Randolf talked and told us everything," bluffed Steven.

Almost everything," said Dave. "We still don't know where Sheila is."

Steven applied some extra pressure to the senator's arm. "Where's my cousin?" The senator kept quiet. "When I get mad, I get tense. When I get tense, I have to break something. Your arm is the closest."

He jerked the senator's arm behind his back. The senator yelped in pain. "Okay! She's at my hotel. If her guards don't hear from me, they'll take her away and kill her."

Steven threw him to the guards. "Take him away!"

"What about Sheila?" demanded Dave.

:Steven, are you sure?" questioned Rick.

"I know what I'm doing! Get rid of this low life! Don't forget his lackey in the closet!" He stormed off.

Rick stared after him. "In all the years I've known him, I've never seen him blow up like that." He turned to the guards. "Go on, take him."

"You, too? You can't be so cold. If he doesn't call, Sheila's as good as dead."

"Everything'll work out. Don't worry."

They walked to the car where they were met by a smiling Steven. "Why the long faces?"

"Quit trying to make up for not letting the Senator call. It won't work."

"But he did call. Sheila's safe, for the time being."

"Please, explain yourself."

Steven cleared his throat and spoke in a voice closely resembling the senator's. "The meeting has gone according to plan. There will be two men sent over to pick her up."

"Unbelievable."

"When do we get her?" asked Dave.

"You and Rick are going to do it. They know me. We'd better head over now before it leaks out over the news."

**************************************************

Outside the hotel room door, Steven thought he heard the TV. "Be careful, I think they've got the news on."

Dave knocked on the door. "Randolf sent us."

"Yeah, just a sec." A man cautiously opened the door and saw only Rick and Dave. "Can't be too careful. Someone's onto us."

"That's why Randolf said to move her. Where is she?"

"In the other room, that way." The second man motioned towards the connecting door.

Dave walked in first followed slowly by Rick. The first man shut the door. Rick's eyes looked over the main room of the suite. "You guys seem to have the cushy job."

"It's not bad."

The newsman on TV then grabbed everyone's attention. "This just in from our correspondent covering the senator's trip of the state. From Greenwich we hear that the senator has just been arrested for conspiracy in the manufacture of faulty planes. Also arrested was Henry Randolf of Randolf Industries, manufacturers of the planes. On hand at the arrest, we are told, was his Grace, the duke of Edinburgh, a one-time resident, who became involved with the case just a few days ago. We will have further news on this story as it develops."

The second man turned off the TV and looked straight at Dave and Rick, who stopped in their tracks. "That must've happened after we left," said Rick.

"If that's true, you'd've been here a-ways back. What's your story?" The first man had a gun in his hand. "I'd better like what I hear."

*****************************************************

Steven didn't want to leave those two in there alone. He went down to the next door and picked the lock. Being unfamiliar with the hotel, he didn't realize he was in the other room of the suite until he heard a woman's voice whisper his name. He turned and saw Sheila sitting on a straight-backed chair. "You're alive," she whispered. "I thought they had killed you for sure."

"Ssshhh. Dave and Rick are in the next room and I think they've been found out." He put his ear to the connecting door. "Go sneak out the back way and go to Haskins. Don't stop until you're a safe distance away. Go on." She gave him a quick kiss then darted away.

When she was gone, he turned his attention to what was going on in the other room. He heard the man's threat and decided to help. He peeked through the keyhole and could see Dave and Rick in profile on either side of a bulky outline of a body. With the right amount of force, that man would be thrown aside and temporarily immobile. Steven prepared himself, then pushed.

Rick and Dave made use of Steven's entrance and each took a man. Once the guns had switched hands, the guards weren't so tough. Rick motioned for his gun for them to start out of the room. "No funny business. I do have a gun in my hand." Though far from meek, they complied.

Dave went straight to the other room once he had the chance. "She's not here!"

"I know."

"What?"

"I know. I sent her to Haskins. She'll be okay with him."

Dave relaxed. "Thank God."

"I think you'd better get a taxi and go see her. I'll help Rick with our two friends. He'll need someone to watch over them while he drives."

"Right. Thanks."

************************************************

The next morning they were headline news--including Jessie. Steven mentioned how she had gotten him out of the house. "If it weren't for her..."

The Senator and Randolf were to be tried for espionage and treason. Rick, as the arresting agent, gave his statement. Morris resigned before his connection became public.

Before the trial (which was to be held in Washington), Steven moved out of his cousin's house to avoid publicity. "I just want to be off for awhile. You know, the reason I came here in the first place?" He smiled. "See you in DC ."

Steven stopped at a payphone outside a drugstore and made a long distance call. "British Embassy. How may I help you?"

"Ambassador Warrington, please."

"The ambassador is in conference at the moment, sir."

"Tell him James Stuart is on the line."

"He won't wish to be disturbed--" She then realized who he was. "One moment, your Grace."

There was a long pause before a deep, Welsh lilt answered. "How are you, your Grace? I've read about you in the papers."

"Can't escape them. I'll tell you the story when I get there."

"You're coming to Washington?"

"I have to be there for the trial."

"That's not for a few days. Surely, you'd rather stay there in the quiet country?"

"The quiet country isn't all that quiet now. Is there any problem with sending a plane my way?"

"None at all. I'll call them after."

"Fine."

*****************************************************

In-between the time of his arrival in Washington and the beginning of the trial, Steven tried to keep away from the press and was almost successful. On the final night before the trial, the Embassy gave a gala. Steven couldn't remember the reason for it, but all the same, he wished it wasn't happening. Since he was of the highest position there, he had to make an appearance. The paparazzi was out in full force and they found him.

After what he thought was a sufficient length of time, he left. He borrowed a car and drove along the Potomac. It was a good thing he was scheduled as a first witness so he could leave after he was done. He had to admit that it was a bizarre twist of fate that brought him to Greenwich when it did. If he hadn't encountered Saunders for that brief time, the U.S. might have fallen to the Soviets. That might seem a bit dramatic, but it was the truth. He pulled up alongside the river and parked. He got out and stayed there for close to two hours, just looking.

*****************************************************

He arrived the next morning at the District Court amidst the flash of cameras. He took his place behind the prosecution. As he sat down, he felt that all eyes were on him. A few minutes later, the defendants walked in. The senator walked in proudly while Randolf glowered at everyone. When his eyes set on Steven, he practically growled.

The justices entered and everyone in the court rose. Chief Justice Warren told them why they were there and asked if each of the lawyers would present his case.

Then came Steven's turn. He told of his involvement in the case from when he first discovered Saunders to the arrest. The defense tried to question the propriety of his eavesdropping, but Steven replied that he had had good reason for Randolf's name had been mentioned in connection with questionable circumstances. Therefore, he felt that he was within his rights.

He stepped down from the stand and waited along with everyone else. He listened to some boring testimony from members of the senator's household and other uninteresting statements.

Recess was called for lunch.

When they returned, Rick was called to give evidence and his account of the arrest. He mentioned that the senator's attempt to escape was taken as an admission of guilt. Randolf, he said, tried to resist arrest by drawing a gun on Steven. Sheila was called to tell of her kidnapping and what, if anything, she had heard during that time. What she stated was a reiteration of what was already known: the defendants were planning on selling the government defective planes because they were in the employ of the Soviets.

It was decided to call recess until the following morning.

Steven went back to the Embassy and told security to be on the lookout in case some "friends" of the Soviet persuasion decided to pay a visit. He decided to stay until the jury went into deliberation. Since the conversation with Sheila a few weeks ago, he was in a hurry to be home.

The next day was for the defense. Steven sat with Sheila, Rick, and Dave, and watched as the lawyer tried to find loopholes in the prosecution. He almost had the perfect one when he talked about the arrest. "The investigation was started by a British citizen, and the arrest was made by a British citizen." He smiled smugly.

Steven tapped the prosecutor on the shoulder and whispered in his ear. The prosecutor stood. "Objection, Your Honor."

"On what grounds?"

"The arrest was made by a government agent and his Grace has a dual citizenship."

"Objection sustained."

The defense continued, but Steven thought his efforts futile. The evidence was strong against them.

When the jury went into deliberation, Steven took leave of the building and went back to the Embassy. A plane was ready to fly him back to London and would leave within two hours. Steven had tea with Warrington while he waited. "Thanks for putting up with the press while I've been here."

"Don't worry. We've had similar occasions before. I'll admit, though, not with such an eminent person as yourself." There was a polite knock on the door. "Come in."

A secretary walked in. "We received a phone call from the Supreme Court. The jury is finished and they wish to know if his Grace would like to be there when sentence is passed."

"That was quick," remarked Steven. "I thought with a case of this magnitude, they'd've taken their time."

"Possibly the weight of the evidence sped their decision."

"I'd better get going. I'll leave for the airport from there so you might as well have my bag put in the boot."

When Steven arrived, he walked into the assigned court to be greeted by a quiet comparable only to a doctor's waiting room. He made his way to the front and took his seat. "I didn't expect them to hold it for me."

"You were the driving force behind it, so it's only fair," said Rick.

Sheila leaned over. "Besides, Rick told them to call you."

The jury filed in and stood, waiting. The justices entered and sat. Chief Justice Warren asked if they had reached their decision. "Yes, Your Honor," said the foreman. "We find the defendants guilty on all charges." He resumed his seat.

Warren looked at the defense who stood and motioned for the senator and Randolf to do the same. "You have been found guilty of treason against the United States. Does the defense have anything to say?" The attorney shook his head. "The only sentence for such a crime is death, to be carried out as soon as can be arranged." He banged his gavel upon the desk, calling an end to the trial.

Steven congratulated the prosecutor and said good-bye to Rick, who had to return to work. He then walked with Dave and Sheila to the waiting limousine. "Have to catch a plane."

"I'm sorry your vacation was ruined. Give my love to everyone." She kissed him.

"I don't know what I would have done without you," said Dave.

"You probably wouldn't have had the problem."

"True," he laughed. "It was good working together, and we only had one argument."

"Give my love to Jessie."

"I will." They shook hands.

The limousine drove to the airport and Steven relaxed. Hopefully, there wouldn't be anything pressing at home so he could spend some time with Jamie like a real father. Take him to see a cricket match, go on holiday in Jersey, or go fishing in Scotland, just something they could do together.

"What will you do when you arrive in London, your Grace?" asked the driver.

"Be a father."

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