Search and Rescue.
Bodie was worried. Anyone who knew him would have recognised this fact from the grimness of his expression, and the terseness of his replies when spoken to.
And why was this supremely self-assured C.I.5 agent so concerned?
His partner, his team-mate, Doyle, was missing; had been missing for over two days now, and still there was no news of him from any source.
Even an extensive A.P.B. search for his car had failed to produce any result!
No agent kept radio-silence this long, unless he was on a special assignment under cover, and Doyle wasn't. The fact that he hadn't called in, meant that for some reason he was unable to do so, and speculation as to what that reason might be, was ranging widely in Bodie's mind.
His pacing up and down, and hovering near the phone desk, was beginning to get on everyone's nerves, especially as they could do nothing about easing it.
Cowley came bustling into the room.
"Come on, Bodie," he said briskly, "Let's go over it again; - every move the pair of you have made over this job. There must be a clue somewhere!
They found an empty small office, and sat down to put their minds to the problem.
"Now," said Cowley, "We first got wind of this job when word came through from our usual sources that a new drugs supplier, as yet unidentified, has come on the scene. He's managing to bring in and distribute a fair amount of stuff, though as yet we don't know how."
"Right," agreed Bodie, "and then it was further confirmed by one of Doyle's informers, who said that the local small dealers were getting a bit narked about it, as he was infiltrating their territory."
"What was that other tip that Doyle's man gave you?" asked Cowley.
"Well, he wasn't sure if it was significant, but he gave us the address of a couple of new men, strangers who had rented rooms in Barrow Street, a rather dubious area."
"And you went there?" said Cowley.
"Yes," replied Bodie, "but we were too late. The landlady, a talkative soul,
said they'd paid in advance, and hired two rooms for a month. But one had only stayed a week, and the other 10 days. He'd gone just the day before we got there,
but he told her they'd be back sometime to collect the rest of their stuff, so Doyle's man is going to go on watching."
"Good," said Cowley. "Then what?"
"Well, we went back to the car," continued Bodie, "and Doyle's man, Fred's his name, was waiting for us. He's a really useful chap! He'd brought us a couple of photos each, of the men he'd been watching."
"Very helpful," Cowley commented. "What did you do next ?"
"I came back here, to get the pictures run through records to see if they were known, but no luck yet."
"What was Doyle going to do?" asked Cowley.
"Well, first he was going home to eat," replied Bodie. "Then he said he would come back to the area later, when the pubs were open, and use the photos to see if the men had been noticed in any of them."
"And that was the last contact you had with him?" queried Cowley.
"Yes," said Bodie. "I thought he'd call if he got any joy anywhere, but he didn't, and I haven't heard a word since." The concern was back in his voice.
"Have you checked the pubs ?" asked Cowley.
"Yes," said Bodie, " Benson and I went there. We found that the men's local was the Victoria, just round the corner from the house. All the barman could tell us was what he'd told Doyle, he said, and that was that both men had come in together once, and one on his own a couple of times, but he hadn't seen them recently."
"Try him again," suggested Cowley, "and maybe ask the regulars,- they might recall something." Bodie nodded, it was at least one action to try.
"Try the talkative landlady too, she might have picked up some gossip."
Bodie followed up his boss's suggestion. He'd added a picture of Doyle to those of the two suspects, and when he spread them out on the bar-top, he got a rather bored response.
"Yes, that's the chap who was asking about the other two, but I can't tell you any more than I told you before." the barman said.
A curious barmaid sidled up to look at the pictures
"Did you tell him that one was a Yank ?" she said, pointing to the older of the two suspects.
"Was he ?" said the barman, not really very interested.
"Yeah," replied the girl, "They sat over there, in that corner, and when I was collecting glasses, I heard him talking."
That's interesting, thought Bodie, and immediately found a quiet corner, to send a message to base, asking for the picture to be further checked against known Americans involved in drug-dealing.
Then he went on to call on the landlady at the address they had been given.
She confirmed that the men hadn't returned, and their stuff was still there. This had already been examined, and was of little help, mainly clothes and personal items. Bodie asked if she could remember any more, and got a new piece of information.
"Well, I did remember something," she said. "I told the other chap."
Bodie was instantly alert. "What other chap?" he demanded.
"Why, the one who was with you before," replied the woman.
"He came back?" asked Bodie eagerly.
"Yes, in the evening," she replied. "I told him how the young chap was quite excited when he left. He said he was going to a new job, on a farm, somewhere down near Dorking."
Bodie shot back to Headquarters to report to Cowley.
"I bet that's where Doyle has gone !" he said exultantly. "If I leave now, I'll get to Dorking before the pubs close, that's the best place for information. If I get any leads, I'll stay overnight, and follow them up in the morning."
Cowley agreed, glad to see that some sort of action was helping to alleviate Bodie's agitation.
Bodie stopped at his flat long enough to pack an overnight bag, and then broke a few speed limits once he was clear of London. He looked round for the busiest inn, and parked his car.
The bar was full of regulars, and it was a while before Bodie got the landlord's full attention. He showed him the photographs.
"Yes," said the landlord, pointing to Doyle's picture. "I remember him. He was asking about the other two, but I've never seen them."
His cheerful buxom wife joined them.
"I remember," she said. "Such a nice, polite chap. He said he thought those men were down here for jobs on a farm. But all the farms round here are very small, and with the hard times we're having, none of them are hiring workers."
Bodie showed the pictures round all the regulars, but got little joy. A few remembered having seen Doyle, but no-one recognised the other two.
The landlord called 'Time ', and the bar began to empty. A room upstairs was available, so Bodie booked in, and fetched his bag from the car.
The room was clean and comfortable, but Bodie didn't sleep very well. For one thing, it had started to rain very hard, and living in a London flat, Bodie wasn't used to the sound of heavy rain on roof tiles.
Also, his mind was turning the problem over and over. It was clear that Doyle had been here a few days ago, but where had he gone since? Where was he now? And why hadn't he called in?
He was up fairly early, and with his normal appetite, was making short work of the substantial breakfast provided. After all, he reasoned, starving himself would help no-one. But all the time he was thinking about what his next move should be.
The landlady came bustling over, and sat down at his table. He looked at her enquiringly.
"I've been thinking," she said. "You know, there is one place that's been hiring men, - Lord Bristow's estate ! The old man's been very ill, he's gone off to live abroad, the Bahamas, I think. The family all moved out, and the estate was getting a bit run down. But, now, there's a new manager moved in, and he seems to be trying to improve matters. He's had men there, putting up a lot of new fences and some big security gates."
Bodie's ears pricked, - this sounded interesting. Such high security measures seemed a little excessive for a private estate in a quiet rural area. What were they securing?
A little later, he took a walk, looking for the local shop, another good place for information. He found one of those little country places that sell everything. The shop-keeper was a bright-eyed little elderly lady. He asked for a map of the local area.
"That's funny," she said. "I had a chap asking for the very same thing just the other day."
"This man ?" said Bodie, producing Doyle's picture.
"No," she said at once. "I've never seen him in here. No, this was a lorry-driver, a foreigner. He wanted to know how to get to the Bristow estate. His big lorry was outside, and that was odd, too," she mused
"Oh, why ?" queried Bodie. He might be onto something here.
"Well," she said "It was one of those big foreign ones. It was marked 'Animal Food' on the side, and I could see the big sacks through the slats. But there haven't been any animals on that estate for years. The cattle and sheep went over twenty years ago, and when the family moved out, they sold all the horses.
And, thought Bodie to himself, why foreign animal food, when there were plenty of local businesses producing that kind of thing. He felt a sudden thrill of excitement. Could he have accidentally stumbled on the very set-up they were looking for?
Sacks of animal food would provide an excellent means of bringing stuff in from the Continent, and although the Customs officers would undoubtedly make random checks on such loads, they were unlikely to examine every sack in a whole lorry load. The price of heroin being what it was, a huge fortune would not be that big a packet to conceal. And didn't that make sense of all the increased security measures ?
A more important thought came into his mind. Had Doyle stumbled on the same set-up, and maybe, got caught investigating ? It would be just like him to try to verify his suspicions, before calling for back-up. Sometimes, he was a bit inclined to rush into things.
He returned to his car, and made a full report to Cowley.
"What do you suggest I do now," he asked.
"Just a minute. Let me think," said Cowley. Then his agile mind came up with an idea. "Give me clear directions to where you're staying," he ordered. "Then go back there and wait. I'll send a motor-cycle courier down with documents that will enable you to pay a visit to this new manager, - some official Ministry stuff about immigrant workers, I think. He can't refuse to see you, or he'd attract local police attention. When you get the papers, play the part straight, but keep your eyes and ears open."
Bodie gave the required directions, and then went back to the inn, to check on what clothes he'd brought with him. He'd have to look the part. Fortunately, he'd put in his blazer, and a shirt and dark tie, so that would do at a pinch , with the black trousers he was wearing now.
He was soon changed and ready, waiting impatiently for the sound of a motor-bike. When, eventually, he heard it, he shot downstairs to meet the courier, to collect the documents he needed for his cover story. They were impressively official looking !
He asked for use of a phone, and, employing some of the official jargon from the documents, contacted the estate manager, and demanded an instant interview. As Cowley had said, the man couldn't really refuse.
So having stowed his gun and his I.D. card safely into a special secret compartment in his car, and armed with a clip-board and a sheaf of papers, he consulted his map, and drove out to find Lord Bristow's estate.
He was admitted at the entrance by a rather surly gateman, and drove up towards the impressive house. As he went, he looked carefully about him, but could see little sign of any farm work or improvement.
He was met at the door by a well-dressed man, who appeared to be making every effort to be welcoming and compliant. Bodie distrusted him instantly!
He gave his name as Gregor, and ushered Bodie into his study, courteously offering him a drink. Bodie declined, declaring he was on official business, not a social call. Gregor smiled politely, but without warmth. Although his manners and his English accent were impeccable, something about him made Bodie suspect that he was of foreign extraction, mid-European, maybe.
Playing his part boldly, and putting on his most official manner, Bodie said, "We are on the look-out for illegal immigrants applying for work in this country, without permits. I hear you have been taking on men."
He produced his three photographs.
"Have you been approached by any of these ?" he demanded.
His trained instincts warned him that the man had recognised something, though he'd covered it up extremely well, and he was ready for the untruthful denials.
"No," said Gregor blandly, looking at the pictures. " I haven't employed them,- or him," he added, as he came to the third.
Now Bodie knew he was lying, but he carefully hid the fact, spouted a great deal of official jargon from his documents, and allowed himself to be politely shown out, and escorted off the premises.
He hurried back to his room, and made a full report to Cowley.
"I know he was lying," said Bodie, a note of anger in his voice. "If he really didn't recognise the pictures, he would have said ' I haven't seen any of them'. And the way he said 'or him ', meant he knew that Doyle wasn't in the same category as the other two.
Cowley agreed, and congratulated his man on his astuteness.
"What do we do now?" asked Bodie, anxious for action.
"I'm going to ask you to do something you'll find difficult," said Cowley.
"Anything, if it'll help us find Ray," said Bodie.
"I want you to sit tight, and wait for a few hours," said Cowley, and got the disappointed mutter he expected.
"The kind of raid we need to make, takes a bit of organising so far from base, and can't be done in five minutes," he said firmly.
He insisted that Bodie did as ordered, and his man reluctantly conceded, reasoning to himself that if going in alone had got Doyle into trouble, he would be rather stupid if he did the same.
He tried to pass the time by retrieving his gun and I.D. from the car, re-packing his bag, and settling his bill. He was ready to move at a moment's notice, but his impatience was getting harder to handle.
If he had but known, things were taking an unexpected turn. While he was twiddling his thumbs, and Cowley was organising a great many things all at once, there was considerable activity up at the house he'd not long left.
Gregor had called all his men together.
"We've got a problem," he said. "That chap that called, I'm sure he wasn't what he purported to be. He had pictures of you two, Simpson and Kinsey, and he had one of that chap we caught snooping. I don't know how, but I think they're on to us. We've got to shift that stuff fast. We'll go to your place, Simpson, just for tonight, and then we'll disperse ourselves and the stuff tomorrow."
There was considerable activity for the next hour or so. Then three heavily-loaded cars sneaked off the estate by deserted back tracks, and headed at top speed for London.
Cowley was at his busiest, organizing a raid some distance away from home territory, when Murphy interrupted him.
"A phone call, sir," he said. "Would only talk to you."
"I'm too busy," said Cowley, but Murphy persisted.
"I think you should take it, sir. It's Fred, Doyle's best informer, a very reliable man, and he sounds excited."
Cowley took the phone, and listened as Fred poured out his news.
"They're back, sir," he said. "Those two men, and several others, carrying quite a lot of bags with them, I think something's happening, something important."
"Good man!," said Cowley. "Now, stay out of sight, but keep watch. We'll be moving in very soon."
It didn't take long to change the plans for a raid some distance away, to one on home ground. Cowley just had time to call Bodie to explain what was going on.
"Get back here," he ordered. "We're going in now."
It was a very successful operation, helped by the element of surprise. Very few shots were fired; the whole gang, including Gregor, were captured, and inspection of the bags revealed a considerable quantity of heroin, divided up, ready to flood the market.
In spite of his dangerously fast driving, Bodie didn't get back till it was all over, and the men safely under lock and key, about to be interrogated.
When Gregor saw Bodie, he snarled viciously. "I knew you weren't what you said you were," he said. "You're C.I .5, too."
"And I knew you were lying," retorted Bodie. "You said you'd never seen the men whose pictures I showed you, yet two of them are here !"
His voice hardened as he asked, "What about the other one ?"
But Gregor's face took on a stubborn look, and he refused to answer.
Seeing Bodie's anger rising, Cowley ordered him out of the room. In the corridor outside, Bodie protested vigorously.
"But he knows what happened to Ray," he said.
"I expect he does," agreed Cowley, "But he's not the one who's going to tell you, - he's too tough. Let's look at the others."
They chose Simpson, who looked the youngest, and appeared to be one of the latest recruits to the gang, perhaps only because he had useful contacts in London.
Having spent a week or more with men infinitely more hardened criminals than himself, Simpson tried to put on an air of bravado as he was separated from the others, led to a small room, and pushed into a seat, but his heart quailed as he eyed the two stern-faced men, sitting opposite him across the table.
Cowley began quietly, pushing the picture of Doyle across in front of Simpson.
"Tell us about this man," he said.
"Don't know him," said Simpson quickly, too quickly.
"You're lying," said Bodie. The words were said lightly, but the glare that accompanied them began to put fear into Simpson.
"Look again," said Cowley, deceptively gently. Then his voice hardened.
"We know you've seen him, so you'd better tell us, now!" His fist thumped the table hard, making Simpson jump.
"Yes, yes, I've seen him," he admitted. "He saw us opening one of the special sacks with the stuff in, but Kinsey saw him, and we caught him. Not easily, though," he said, remembering. "He was a bit of a battler. I've still got a bruise where he kicked me. It took four of us to hold him eventually."
Then it dawned on him.
"He was one of your lot, wasn't he ?", he gasped
And with that thought, fear really began to set in. These were hard men who knew how to get the results they wanted, and they weren't going to like what he knew.
"Did you kill him?" demanded Bodie, impatiently.
"Should have done," said Simpson. " Should have shoved him in the lake, with his car."
So that's why we didn't find it, thought Cowley to himself.
Apprehension had loosened Simpson's tongue, and he rattled on.
"Gregor wanted to talk to him, so we took him up to the house. Gregor treated him a bit rough, but he didn't get anything out of him, so he told us to get rid of him."
"What then?" asked Cowley, keeping one eye on Bodie. He could see the anger rising in his man, and was ready to forestall any unhelpful action.
"We dumped him," continued Simpson.
"Killed him?," said Cowley, trying hard to control a sudden fear.
"Not exactly," said Simpson. "But I expect he's a goner by now."
A slight air of defiance returned to him, as he wrongly mis-judged the quiet attention of his listeners. "You won't find him !"
Bodie stood, and moved round to tower over the seated man.
"Won't I ?" He said it so quietly, but the menace in his voice was palpable. Simpson was suddenly terrified, and turned to Cowley.
"Keep him off me !", he yelled.
Cowley appeared to be studying his finger-nails.
"You know," he said, "I seem to have suddenly gone blind and deaf."
He got up and sauntered towards the door, seemingly indifferent, but all the while alert to intervene, if Bodie went too far.
But in the end, violence wasn't necessary. Fear of it quite finished Simpson, and words came tumbling out. Bodie listened intently, then started to move quickly towards the door.
"The woods at the north end of the estate," he snapped.
Cowley stepped in front of him, quite undaunted by the glare of his frustrated man.
"Stop, Bodie," he ordered. "Do it properly! A full squad, proper clothing and boots, machetes to clear undergrowth, and powerful torches. It'll be almost dark by the time you get there. Now, go!"
Satisfied that he had restrained his impetuous man from dashing off alone to look for his friend, and slowed him down long enough to ensure proper and efficient action, he returned Simpson to custody, and went off to help Bodie with the arrangements.
Once word spread, there was no shortage of volunteers to join the squad, and preparations were completed in double-quick time.
Cowley watched the loaded cars shoot out of the yard, and breathed a silent prayer for the outcome of the mission. If all Bodie found was Doyle's body, all hell would break loose, and he'd end up losing both his best men.
In spite of severely-broken speed limits, it was starting to get dark when they reached their destination. The security gates would have been a bit of a hold-up, if someone had not thought to add powerful bolt-cutters to the equipment.
These made short work of opening them, and the three cars roared up the long drive, past the dark and deserted house, and on towards the woods on the north side of the estate.
There was quite a large area to search, but with Murphy's ever-reliable calm help, Bodie organised his squad so that, if they moved slowly and steadily, in a co-ordinated fashion, they would cover it all. Bodie was finding it difficult to act in such a controlled manner, but he knew, really, that that was the best way to tackle the search.
For a while nothing could be heard but the sound of men crashing through bushes, and the swish of blades dealing with hampering brambles and thick undergrowth.
Then someone yelled "Here!," and the powerful torch beams began to converge, as the men turned eagerly towards the sound. Soon several of them were illuminating a small glade and what lay there.!
Doyle was lying curled on his side near the base of a tree. His hands were bound behind him, and a knotted rag gagged him. But, more worrying than that, revealed by the light of several torches, was the sight of the steel teeth of a vicious man-trap, whose jaws held Doyle's left leg in their immovable grip.
Murphy was bending over him, his long slim fingers feeling for a pulse.
"He's alive, just about," he reported.
Bodie was quickly on his knees beside the still form. He lifted his mate up off the sodden ground, pillowing the rain-matted curls against his shoulder. Hands reached out quickly to remove the gag, and to cut the ropes that tied him.
"Find something to open that," ordered Bodie, gazing at the illegal man-trap, with a furious glare.
Doyle stirred slightly in his arms. One of the men, well-meaning, proffered a hip-flask. Bodie tried to tip a little of the warming spirit into his friend's mouth, but he wasn't ready for it, and it only made him cough and splutter.
The men had found a stout branch, and were endeavouring to prize open the wicked jaws of the man-trap. Suddenly, the branch broke, and the sprung steel snapped shut again.
Doyle made a sound somewhere between a yelp and a moan, and passed out. Bodie closed his arms round him, resisting the urge to yell abuse at his men for causing more pain. They hadn't done it on purpose, after all. They were all desperately keen to help. Doyle was popular, and anger was high to see him so badly treated.
He channelled his own anger into something more constructive, and began issuing orders.
"Back to the cars," he said briskly. "Benson, you call an ambulance, and then get down to the road to guide them in. Thornton, contact Headquarters, and let them know what's happening."
By this time, the men had found an old fence post, much stronger, and had forced open the steel jaws, releasing Doyle's badly-injured leg.
"The rest of you can light our best way back to the cars," continued Bodie.
"Murphy, help me up. I'll carry him."
With Murphy's assistance, Bodie managed to get to his feet, cradling the limp form carefully.
The torch-lit procession made its way back to where they'd parked the cars. One was missing. Following orders, Benson had gone down to the main gate, to lead the ambulance in.
Bodie eased himself onto the front seat of the largest car, not relinquishing his burden. Sensibly the other men began to re-pack the equipment they had used, bolt-cutters, machetes and torches
Murphy was hovering beside Bodie.
"How is he?," he asked anxiously.
"Very cold and wet," replied Bodie, recalling how it had poured the night he stayed at the inn. Then some instinct spurred him to action. Opening first his jacket, and then Doyle's, he turned his friend to lie flat against his broad chest, then folded his jacket round him, hoping that the close contact would restore some warmth to the cold body he held. He was rewarded with a slight stirring and flexing of the hitherto inert form he was hugging. He smiled inwardly, thinking he'd often held a girl this close, but never a man before. But then, this was Ray, and it seemed to be helping him.
The sound of a car engine, then the glare of headlights, heralded the return of Benson, closely followed by an ambulance.
Bodie pulled his car keys out of his pocket, and tossed them to Murphy.
"I'll leave it to you," he said, knowing he could safely rely on the man. "Take my car, and organize getting the squad and the equipment back to base."
By this time, two ambulance men had taken Doyle from him, and were getting him into the ambulance.
"I'm going with Ray to ?….." He looked enquiringly at the men .
"St Mary's Cottage Hospital," replied the senior man.
"Right," he said. "Got that, Murphy ?". Murphy nodded, he'd deal with it.
"I'll call in and report from there," said Bodie, and climbed into the ambulance, to gaze anxiously at the pale face of his friend, now securely tucked up in a bright red blanket.
Soon the dark woods were deserted again, the only sound being that of the rising wind, and the returning heavy rain.
It only took about 10 minutes for the local ambulance to reach its base. The patient was quickly carried inside, and handed into the care of three nurses, who had appeared as they arrived.
Bodie paced up and down the narrow hospital corridor He'd been getting more and more frustrated in the last half-hour. Naturally, the local ambulance had brought them to the nearest hospital, but, as Bodie had discovered, it was only a small place. It did not even have a resident doctor, but relied on the services of the local G.P. He had been sent for at once, but had only just turned up, as he had been out on a difficult maternity case.
The nurses had been very caring and concerned, but as far as Bodie could tell, all they had done was to get Doyle out of his wet clothes, which now sat in a plastic bag by Bodie's chair.
They had made their patient clean and dry and comfortable, that was all, he thought, as they had to wait for the doctor. They had allowed him to sit with Ray, which had worried him even more, as his friend seemed to keep drifting in and out of consciousness, without coming round fully.
What Bodie did not know, was that this was a symptom of hypothermia. The nurses did know, and were watching carefully, and treating their patient appropriately.
They'd sent him out when the doctor did arrive. An elderly, fussy little man, he was in there now, examining the patient. I hope he knows what he's doing, thought Bodie.
The sound of footsteps at the end of the corridor alerted him. He turned towards the sound, and gasped in astonishment, as two familiar figures hurried towards him, Cowley himself, and Dr. Fenton, from St. Richard's, the London hospital they always used.
"Well, Bodie, how is he ?", demanded Cowley.
"I don't know," replied Bodie. "The doctor's only just got here."
Fenton beamed in his usual cheerful manner.
"I'll go in, and chuck my weight about a bit," he said, and pushed open the door.
Bodie turned to Cowley.
"How did you get here ?", he asked.
"Pulled a few strings," said Cowley, with a smile. "We've got an ambulance from St. Richard's following. We've come to take him back home."
Meanwhile, rather than coming on too heavy-handed, Dr. Fenton was exerting his considerable charm on the tired old country doctor.
"What do you make of him ?," he asked.
"Well, he's got damaged ribs, and a nasty leg injury," the man replied. "And I understand he's been lying out in the woods for several nights, and it's been very wet recently. But apparently he was wearing a leather jacket, so that would have helped."
Fenton was running sensitive hands over Doyle's rib-cage.
"We'll get those X-rayed," he said briskly, "and we'll have to tidy up that leg wound. Nasty, isn't it?"
The elderly man was flattered. This London doctor seemed really to be heeding his opinions, and seeking his advice. Tired as he was, he didn't realise he was merely being humoured.
"He doesn't seem too chilled," continued Fenton, beaming at the three nurses. "Your staff have kept him nice and warm, thank you very much."
Cowley tapped on the door, and looked in.
"The ambulance is here," he reported. Empty roads, and an unofficial police escort had helped them make excellent time.
Fenton turned back to his patient, and found him awake. He grinned cheerfully at him.
"Time to go home, old son," he said in his cheerful way, and was rewarded with a weak smile.
"How do you feel, Ray ?", he asked, mainly to assess how awake he was.
"Tired," replied Doyle wearily.
"Relax, we'll soon have you right again," said Fenton briskly. Very quickly he organised the transfer of his patient to the London ambulance, thanked the staff at 's again and was off.
Bodie would have gone with them, but Cowley stopped him.
"You come back with me," he ordered, and when Bodie started to protest, he added, "We'll drop Doyle's wet things off at his flat, and find him some dry ones. We'll still be back at St Richards before them, especially if I let you drive."
Cowley was shrewd enough to realise that doing something positive, was the best way to relieve Bodie's anxiety about his mate.
In actual fact, their diversion took a little longer than expected, and when they entered 's they found that Fenton and his charge were already back.
Fenton came to meet them, beaming in his usual cheerful way.
"Look," he said, "There's no point in you hanging around here. He's in no danger. He seems to have survived the exposure very well, there's no sign of pneumonia, or anything like that. We'll be busy for a while seeing to his ribs, and tidying up that nasty leg wound. And then we'll have to get his system back into working order. He's tired, so he'll spend quite a while sleeping it off. But give us a few days, and he'll be fine."
He was true to his word. A few days later, when Bodie visited, he found his mate sitting up, and looking quite himself again, apart from the bandages round his chest, and the protective cage keeping the weight of the covers off his leg.
They settled down to chat amiably, bringing each other up to date on what had happened.
"What I don't understand," said Doyle, "is how you managed to find me. I suppose I should have left word as to where I was going, but it was such a vague clue, I wasn't sure anything would come of it. And I really wasn't expecting what I did find, and then it all moved so fast."
"It's mainly down to your man, Fred," said Bodie. "He kept an eye on that address he gave us, and then raised the alarm when they came back."
"He's a good chap," said Doyle. "I reckon I owe him.!"
"Tell me about him," said Bodie, genuinely interested.
"He was in the army for a while," said Doyle, "then he left to join the police. He was half-way through his training, when he had a bad motor-cycle accident. You've seen how badly he limps. It finished his chances of a career, of course. Since then he's lived on disability benefit, and doing odd jobs. But he's done some surveillance work for me, and he's very good at it."
"You should tell Cowley about him," suggested Bodie. "He might get him part-time on the payroll, doing that kind of work, just for us."
Cowley turned up a little later, and seemed genuinely pleased to see Doyle's improved condition. They talked over the details of the case again.
"What I don't get," said Bodie, "is how you came to walk into a man-trap. Was it in the dark?"
Doyle didn't answer, but his eyes met Cowley's, who replied for him.
"Actually, Bodie," he said, "I don't think he did walk into it."
Bodie was aghast at his own stupidity. He'd had so much on his mind that he hadn't realised.
"You mean they actually put…..B*******," he exclaimed, the epithet casting considerable doubt on the gang's parentage. "If I'd known earlier !"
"I shouldn't worry about it," said Cowley. "I confided my suspicions to Emmett and Moreton, who are escorting the gang down to Bedford jail today, and to Wilson, who's driving the van."
Bodie looked at him questioningly. What did this wily, devious man mean?
"Very rough roads down that way," Cowley mused. "Wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that they'd 'fallen off their seats' a few times."
He and Doyle exchanged a smile, as they watched Bodie's face break into a delighted grin.