George Cowley, head of C.I.5, strode purposefully towards the doors of St. Richard's Hospital. He was on his way to visit one of his best men, Doyle, who was laid up there, after a particularly bad bout of a virulent fever, which he had contracted while working under cover in a poverty-stricken Indian area of the city.
Although he insisted on constant regular updates when any of his force were ill or injured, Cowley did not usually indulge in sick-visiting personally.
But yesterday evening, as he was getting ready for bed, and pondering over some of the reports that had arrived on his desk during the day, he'd had a sudden idea. He had thought long and hard about it, and was now anxious to see if it could be implemented.
Having phoned ahead, he was met by one of the senior doctors, and asked immediately to be allowed to see Doyle.
"He's not really up to visitors yet," said the man doubtfully. "Although he's beginning to respond now, it's taken an awful lot out of him. He'll need a long spell of convalescence to restore his strength."
"Yes, I know that," replied Cowley, "and it's being arranged. But I do need to speak to him."
"Be prepared for a bit of a shock, then," said the doctor, and led the way to the side room allotted to his patient.
In spite of the doctor's warning, Cowley was rather taken aback by what he saw as he entered the small room.
Doyle appeared to be sleeping. He lay flat on the narrow bed, the face on the pillow pale and drawn, and the normally strong hands were lying limply on the covers. To Cowley it looked as if the man had almost shrunk. He'd known that Doyle had been seriously ill, indeed close to death, but he hadn't really realised how much the illness had depleted him.
But, as Cowley had walked through the hospital corridors, the doctor had assured him that with proper care, his man would soon be making good progress towards a full recovery, and he clung to this thought.
He took hold of a nearby chair, and moved it so that he could sit at the bedside. The slight sound roused Doyle, who opened tired eyes.
"Sir," he managed weakly.
"Hello, Doyle," said Cowley. "How are you ?."
"Improving, sir," Doyle murmured.
"Good," responded Cowley. "I've got a job for you."
This raised a feeble protest from the patient. "I'm hardly fit yet, sir," he said.
"I know that," replied Cowley briskly. "But just listen for a moment. The doctor tells me that you need a period of convalescence to restore you, so I'm getting you sent to Rushendene House. It's a converted stately home, set on cliffs above the sea. There are lots of pleasant walks in the secluded grounds, and healthy sea breezes."
Cowley was pleased to see a spark of interest lighting up the tired eyes, so he went on.
"The members of staff there are all specialists. If you follow the regime they'll set for you, they guarantee to have you fit again very soon."
"Sounds good," murmured Doyle, with a faint smile.
"But, while you're there," continued Cowley, getting to the point of his plan, "I want you to try something. I want you to befriend another patient."
Ignoring the questioning expression on Doyle's face, he went on. "There's a chap currently there, called Johnny Moulson. He's been one of the best men M.I.6 ever had. He was working for them out East, in China, then Korea and Cambodia, and he was sending back valuable information. Suddenly it stopped. Nothing was heard for a while. They began to believe he must be dead. Then it was discovered that he was in prison, in Cambodia. So, a daring raid was mounted, and they got him out, more dead than alive, I'm afraid."
Cowley registered the look of interest, starting to enliven the pale face before him and continued. "He's been in hospital ever since, and now he's at Rushendene. Physically, he's practically fit again, but it's a different story mentally. We can only guess at what happened to him out there, but it must have been bad. He hasn't spoken a single word since he was rescued. They've tried everything. They are sure that he hears and understands all that's said to him, but he doesn't respond. He obeys orders, does exactly what he's told to do, but nothing more."
Doyle was attempting to sit up, so Cowley slipped an arm under his shoulders to help him, and pushed a spare pillow in behind him.
"What makes you think he might respond to me ?," Doyle asked, and his voice was quite a bit stronger.
"Well," said Cowley, "You're much the same age as he is, and you're quite clearly a patient, not staff, so he may come to trust you, if you're just friendly and don't push him. Think about it."
After Cowley left, Doyle did think about it, but not for very long. With George Cowley in charge, ideas were put into action very quickly. And before he knew it he was on the move !
Actually, Doyle remembered very little of the rest of the day, mainly due to a mild sedative given to him. He had recollections of being helped, almost carried, into the back of a large comfortable car, and being enfolded in warm travelling rugs. He vaguely remembered a long journey, under the eagle eye of a senior male nurse from St. Richard's. He had impressions of passing through towns and villages, and of driving through long country lanes.
The strongest recollection was of light streaming from a doorway into the darkening evening, as they pulled up in front of a large house. Many hands helped him as he was hustled, gently but firmly, up several flights of carpeted stairs, and into a small ward.
But when he was neatly tucked into a warm comfortable bed, he gave up trying to think, and was quickly asleep.
The senior Sister looked at the curly head and the tired face on the pillow. I think they moved you too soon, she thought to herself. But we'll take care of you, young man.
The nurse who'd been accompanying, handed over the file of medical reports he had brought with him. He and the driver gratefully accepted the offer of refreshments, and then the big car roared off into the night, returning to London.
Doyle woke the next morning, feeling slightly dis-orientated, not sure where he was. Then he began to remember, first the conversation with Cowley, then less clearly, the long car journey. So he concluded, correctly, that he was now at Rushendene House, though he wasn't sure where that was.
You have to hand it to my boss, he thought wryly. When he has a plan, things happen at quite a pace.
He eased himself up on the pillow. I feel quite a bit better, he thought. That's good. The doctor did say that I would improve quite rapidly once I got started again
He looked around him with interest. Although there were light curtains across the big windows, the morning light was filtering into the room, bringing the promise of a fine day to come.
The light airy room was well-appointed, with a neat wardrobe, a bedside table, an armchair, and in the corner a small sink, with a mirror above.
To his left, a curtain gave privacy to a second bed, and beyond that, similar furnishings.
He couldn't see his neighbour, but slight sounds told him that the other bed was occupied.
The door opened, and a cheerful, smiling Sister breezed in. She pulled back the curtains, and light streamed into the room.
"Good morning, Mr. Doyle," she said brightly. With the ease of long practice, she seized two spare pillows from the chair, and with a strong arm, helped him sit up comfortably.
"Breakfast in bed for you this morning, young man," she said, "for the doctor wants to check you over. But don't get too used to it. We like to get our patients up and about, even if it's only to sit out on the patio to enjoy the sun and fresh air."
As she chattered gaily on, she very efficiently swung a bed-table into place, and fetched her patient a flannel, a towel and a bowl of warm water from the sink.
Only then did she approach the next bed. "Come on, Johnny," she ordered firmly. "Get up, have a wash, get dressed, and then go down for breakfast."
There was no reply, but as Doyle washed his hands and face, sounds told him that his neighbour was doing as she had asked.
The sister came back to him, and when he'd finished, whisked away the washing equipment.
"Breakfast won't be long," she told him, and turned to watch as a man appeared from behind the curtain. He was of medium height, sturdily built, with rather unruly fair hair.
"Good morning," said Doyle politely, but it was as if he hadn't spoken, for the man totally ignored him, and with a blank expression, walked past the end of his bed, and disappeared out of the door.
Doyle must have looked a bit surprised, for the sister turned to him, and said, "Don't let it bother you. That's Johnny, and he doesn't talk to anyone. But you'll find the other patients all friendly when you meet them."
Doyle didn't tell her that he already knew about Johnny and how totally uncommunicative he was, and why.
Doyle enjoyed his breakfast, but was glad to ease down and rest afterwards. He wasn't as strong as he had first thought. Even simple things were an effort.
A doctor came to visit him, armed with the report file from St Richard's. Although he seemed quite satisfied with the examination, he ordered a day's bed-rest, so his patient had a quiet day, reading the newspapers they brought up to him, and dozing intermittently. He wasn't lonely, for various pleasant nurses popped in from time to time, to check if he needed anything. He very soon persuaded them to call him Ray instead of the formal 'Mr. Doyle'. It was a quiet restful day, but by the time evening came, he was quite content to drink the milky night-cap they brought him, and to be settled down comfortably.
He was fast asleep when Johnny, following Sister's precise orders, came quietly in, and climbed into the neighbouring bed.
The next morning began in much the same way. As before the Sister brought him washing facilities, and then went on to give Johnny his instructions.
As the man passed the foot of his bed, Doyle once again looked his way and tried a polite "Good morning", but as before, got no response.
Then the pattern changed. The Sister brought him a dressing-gown and some slippers, and helped him to get out of bed and don them. He was disgusted to find how unsteady he was with just this simple effort, and was very glad of a supporting arm, as he was led gently from the room and down the stairs.
"You're sitting with Johnny," said the Sister. "He won't answer you, but I suggest you do as we all do, and just talk to him normally. We're quite sure that he hears and understands, and we're hoping that one day he'll just wake up and respond."
Doyle felt a bit uncomfortable going into company not properly dressed, until he entered the room and realised two things. First, the patients all appeared to be male, and secondly, at least half of them were attired as he was.
He did as suggested, and talked normally to Johnny, just idle talk. He got no reply, of course, but just once, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a slight change in his companion's blank expression. They are right, he thought, he does hear and understand perfectly well.
He had enjoyed getting up for breakfast, but had found it more tiring than he had expected. So he was glad to be shepherded towards a chaise-longue in the sunny conservatory, which ran the whole length of the south side of the house. There were quite a number of chairs and day-beds in there, and it was light and airy, with open French windows letting in gentle breezes with the tang of sea air.
Several other patients were taking their places round about, but Johnny wasn't one of them. He could hear Sister speaking to him.
"Have a nice walk today, Johnny," she said. "Out as far as the bench on the headland. Have a rest there, see if you spot any passing ships, and be back in time for coffee."
It seemed as if Johnny responded only to precise detailed instructions, as he walked off obediently through one of the doors and down the path.
Doyle began chatting to some of the other patients sitting near him, and found them a friendly lot. Some had obvious physical causes for their presence there, and were collected by physiotherapists from time to time, and others, like himself, were on a regime of rest to regain strength.
When asked in a friendly way what he did, he avoided a detailed reply, and just said he was a civil servant. Nobody pressed him further.
He noticed that Johnny obediently returned for 'elevenses', and stayed with the main group the rest of the day, sitting silently opposite him during lunch. He was also in the lounge in the afternoon, as they watched a pleasant old film, but he sat by himself and spoke to no-one.
When the film finished, the Sister came to Doyle, and led him away. "You've done well for your first day," she said, "But back to bed now. I'll get your supper sent up." Although he did feel better, Doyle was glad to give in and let her help him up the stairs and back into bed.
The next day began as the previous one, apart from one incident which was so slight that Doyle didn't notice its importance.
He said "Good morning," as usual, and was met with a blank stare from two steely-blue eyes. When Johnny had left, the Sister came bouncing towards his bed.
"That was splendid !," she said excitedly.
"What do you mean ?," asked Doyle blankly.
"Didn't you see ?," she asked in surprise. "Johnny actually turned his head, and looked at you. Nobody told him to do that ! It's the first voluntary action I've seen from him."
Then Doyle understood why she was so pleased, and a little thrill of pleasure ran through him. Was he beginning to see the first signs of progress in the job his boss had given him ?
"Now, be very careful," warned the Sister. "If you see any more little things like that, try to behave normally, and don't show any excitement, - it might put him off. But report to me. The doctors will be very glad to hear about it."
Doyle heeded her words as she escorted him down to breakfast. He talked easily to Johnny, who was stolidly eating his breakfast, still as taciturn as ever.
As it was another fine day, Johnny was sent off for his walk and left in his usual silent way. Doyle and some of the others were collected by a tall male physiotherapist, who put them through a session of simple exercises. It wasn't too strenuous, and Doyle was pleased with how well he coped with it. He was getting a bit stronger every day.
The next day brought a little more progress. He had been found some clothes to wear, and felt better being properly dressed. He went downstairs on his own, too, though he kept one hand on the banister-rail, just in case.
The following days proceeded in similar fashion. If it was fine, as it was most days, Johnny was sent off for his walk, while Doyle and the others had their exercise sessions, which were gradually increasing in the degree of effort required to do them.
In the afternoons, there was usually a film or a talk in the lounge. Doyle did notice one thing though, Although Johnny still sat without a word to anyone, it seemed that he always managed to find a seat near to Doyle. Was that his own choice, wondered Doyle ? Or had someone told him to do it ? The nurses were constantly giving the man simple instructions to get him through the day.
But the next morning brought another interesting incident. Doyle and Johnny were sitting down to breakfast as usual. Doyle was chatting casually as he always did, when he did notice something. As he took a slice of toast from the toast-rack and put it on his plate, Johnny's hand slowly moved and pushed the butter-dish over to within his reach. Doyle thanked him politely with comment, but inwardly he felt a little 'kick', _ another voluntary action.!
As the days went on, similar small incidents were noticed by the staff. A wet day had kept them all indoors. Many of the patients were amusing themselves in the conservatory, playing cards or dominoes. Doyle had secured a day-bed and the local newspaper. Johnny had taken a seat beside him. He was just sitting gazing blankly out of the window at the rain. But when Doyle dozed off, and the newspaper began to slip from his grasp, it was Johnny's hand that stopped it falling to the floor.
When a man with a very severe leg injury, accidentally stumbled against their table one dinner time, and sent a glass, fortunately empty, toppling, it was Johnny whose hand stopped it falling off the table, and avoided a possible nasty breakage.
Then on the advice of the doctors, something new was tried. The exercise sessions had been postponed for a couple of days, as their man was away on a special course.
After breakfast, as they were rising from the table, Sister approached Doyle and his companion. "Johnny," she said brightly, "Ray's fit enough to go for a little walk today. Would you like to show him the gardens ?" To her surprise, and quickly concealed delight, she got a little nod of agreement.
She handed Doyle a jacket, as the sea breezes were still a little fresh, and shepherded the pair through the sun- lounge and out of the patio doors. She watched as Johnny led the way towards the south-west corner of the building, and noted with some satisfaction that he had slowed his pace to suit his less fit companion.
As they turned the corner, Doyle gasped in delight as he saw what was there. Not visible from the sun-lounge, were extensive laid-out gardens, shielded from the wind at the far end by a row of greenhouses. The pride and joy of the two gardeners who were employed there, there were formal flower-beds, aglow with colour, various bushes and shrubs, and a stretch of neatly ordered rows of vegetables, presumably to keep the house supplied.
Doyle spent a pleasant time wandering along the paths in the sunshine, and enjoying the colours and different scents of the flowers. He came upon a big bed of roses, in a wide variety of glowing colours. He turned to his companion, quite excited.
"Aren't those beautiful !," he exclaimed, and actually got a nod and the flicker of a smile, from his silent escort.
This first outing set a pattern for the days to come. When it was dry, and it usually was, for they were just getting to the end of summer, Johnny escorted Doyle on walks in the extensive grounds. These got longer, and were extended further afield as Doyle got steadily fitter.
It was on one of these walks that something special happened. They'd gone as far as the bench on the headland, over-looking the sea, where they sat for a while to enjoy the wide view. Johnny, who was looking southwards to where another high headland jutted out into the sea, saw, just coming into view, the large vessel making its ponderous was along the horizon.
He clutched Doyle's arm, and pointed. "Ship," he said. The voice was low and husky.
Doyle struggled to conceal his excitement. Johnny had spoken ! "Yes," he said easily, "Looks like an oil-tanker, a big one."
Doyle could hardly wait to get back, to take Sister to one side, and to tell her what had happened. She was as pleased as he was.
"You really seem to be helping him, Ray," she said. "I'm delighted. Keep it up, won't you."
She herself was lucky enough to hear the next word. She was close by in the hallway, the following morning, and saw Johnny put his hand on Doyle's arm.
"Walk ?," he said questioningly.
"Yes, of course," replied Doyle. "Which way are you taking me today ?."
And so it went on, day after day, but progress was very slow. Johnny only spoke to Doyle, no-one else, and it was only single words, perhaps 5 or 6 in a day.
Doyle was beginning to get a bit worried. With the well-planned regime of rest, mild exercise, and walks in the grounds, he was practically fit again. He wouldn't be able to stay at Rushendene House much longer. Besides, he thought, I've been looked after so well, I shall get lazy.
Then one day, as the pair returned from their walk, Sister met him at the door.
"You've got a visitor," she said. "As he's brought some clothes for you, I've had nurse take him up to your room, to put them in the cupboard."
"Thank you," said Doyle, and hurried up the stairs. I wonder who they've sent, he thought. He entered the room and was delighted to find it was Bodie. The nurse finished putting some folded clothes into a drawer and left.
"Hi ya, mate," said Bodie cheerfully, "How are you ?"
"Pleased to see you again," replied Doyle. "Nice of you to visit me."
"I'm not visiting," retorted Bodie. "I'm here on business."
He went to the door and made sure it was firmly shut. "Sit down, and I'll explain," he said. "We've been getting regular reports about you, you know, and the boss seems very pleased that you've made some progress with Moulson." I'm glad about that, thought Doyle.
"But, said Bodie seriously. "We're not the only ones who have heard about it. !."
"What do you mean ?," asked Doyle, not understanding.
"It's got out, and there's a an intensive investigation going on to find out how, that Moulson is beginning to talk again, and there are those who would rather he didn't !."
"Are you serious ?," asked Doyle incredulously.
"Deadly serious," Bodie confirmed. "So I've brought you a couple of old friends."
He fished in the bottom of the bag he'd brought, and produced Doyle's gun and holster, and his radio-phone.
"You really think he's in danger ?," asked Doyle. "
"Yes, we do," replied his mate. "We think there will be an attempt to silence him permanently. That's why we're here. I've got a couple of good men with me, and we're staying in the village, about 5 miles away, on the look-out for any strangers in the area. If anything happens, you call, and we'll come running.!"
Doyle could hardly believe it, but Bodie wouldn't be lying about something this important.
They chatted for a little longer, and then Bodie left, leaving Doyle with a lot to think about. He didn't sleep as well as usual that night.
But when he got up the next morning and put on some of his own clothes, with the gun in its holster snugly in place under his jacket, and the radio-phone neatly in its special pocket, he began to feel more like his usual self, ready to tackle whatever happened. I'm virtually back on duty, he thought !
And Bodie's warning had been more timely than he knew !
Late that afternoon, Doyle and Johnny were returning to the house along the path that ran beside the small wood on the northern side of the estate.
Suddenly they heard a sharp 'crack', and something whistled past them into the trees behind.
"Down !," shouted Doyle instantly. He dropped to the ground and, he was glad to see, Johnny followed suit obediently. Then the pair slithered quickly backwards into the cover of the bushes at the edge of the woods.
Doyle's gun was quickly in his hand, and his eyes were scanning the slopes beyond the far edge of the wood, the direction the shot had come from. Another bullet 'pinged' into the tree behind, showering slivers of bark down onto them. This time Doyle had spotted the flash, and knew that the attackers were up on the ridge to his right. He loosed a shot in that direction, but it was out of range.
He looked about him, and spotted, about 30 yards to his left, a small hut. It had once been a gamekeeper's shack, in the days when the estate was privately owned. It was falling into ruin, with no glass in the windows, and holes appearing in the roof, but it had been solidly built of stone, and would offer some shelter.
He reached for Johnny's arm, and pointed to the hut. "Are you ready to run ?," he asked. "I'll cover us."
Johnny nodded. Doyle was pleased to see that he looked quite calm.
"Go," yelled Doyle, and the pair shot off, zig-zagging as they went. They tumbled through the open doorway, and together heaved the heavy door, hanging by one hinge, back into place. As they did so, a couple of bullets 'thunked' into it, and they dropped down quickly into the comparative shelter of the stone walls.
Doyle moved to the window, and cautiously raised his head. He ducked back rapidly as a shot caught the edge of the opening, and threw chips of stone in his face.
Then, suddenly, a voice he hadn't heard before spoke to him from the dark corner of the little hut. "Who are you ?," it asked, and the voice was firm and strong.
Doyle felt a surge of excitement as he realised what had happened.
Johnny Moulson was back !
Quick on the up-take, he answered. "Ray Doyle, C.I. 5," he said. "Who are you ?."
"Johnny Moulson, M.I. 6," was the prompt reply.
"Welcome back," said Doyle, and reached out to shake the hand proffered towards him.
He returned to the window, and saw a couple of dark shapes slipping into the far edge of the wood.
"They're getting closer," he said. Then he turned to the man who had crept up beside him. He held out his gun.
"Can you discourage them ?," he suggested, "while I call out the cavalry."
Johnny took the gun confidently, and moved into position by the window. Doyle crouched down against the wall, and activated his radio-phone. It was answered at once, and he quickly let Bodie know what was happening and exactly where they were.
"On my way," his mate said, and switched off.
Johnny loosed off a quick shot as another thud hit the wooden door. Then, as Doyle sidled back beside him, he handed the gun back to him.
"Personally, I like something a bit weightier," he said, "but it shoots well."
Doyle marvelled to himself. What a change ! The man beside him was now, like himself, a well-trained confident agent, ready to deal with whatever was required of him.
A few minutes passed. Doyle fired a couple of shots at shadowy figures glimpsed among the trees, but didn't feel as if he'd scored any result.
Then he heard the sound he'd been waiting for – the roar of a speeding car.!
He smiled to himself. Nobody he knew, except Bodie, thrashed a car engine quite like that.
He risked a quick look out of the window, and saw a big black car draw up close to the far end of the wood. Three men jumped out and charged in towards the nearest trees.
A fusillade of shots rang out, then a short silence, and then a few more. As it all went quiet again, Doyle risked another look.
A lone figure left the woods and jumped into the car, which roared the remaining distance to pull up outside the hut.
A cheery voice hailed them. "Anyone like a lift ?," said Bodie.
The two relieved men heaved open the heavy door, which all but fell to pieces under their hands, and climbed into the car. Doyle made quick introductions, and Moulson and Bodie shook hands.
"You weren't far away," commented Moulson astutely. "Were you expecting this to happen ?."
"We'd heard rumours," replied Bodie, and explained as much as he knew.
Two men left the woods and came towards them. Doyle recognised Morris and Barton, two of their best men, and very good marksmen. They reported to Bodie.
"Found three of them, all dead. No I.D. on any of them," said Morris, "but I think I might know one of them. I'll look him up in Records when we get back."
"These might help," said Barton, indicating the sniper's rifles the pair were carrying. "We've handled them carefully," he explained. "They'll have prints."
"Good thought," praised Bodie. He jumped out and opened the capacious boot. Carefully they tucked the guns into large plastic bags, to be delivered into the skilled hands of the forensic specialists later.
They all returned to the big car, and went back to Rushendene House. The staff were astonished at the changed man who walked in with Doyle. Instead of the blank-faced automaton they were used to, they saw an alert, confident man, talking quite animatedly to the men accompanying him.
Those patients who noticed didn't get much chance to be amazed, for the whole party quickly disappeared into the doctor's office.
Phone calls were made to special numbers in London, and the lines fairly hummed with the exchanges of information. Bodie had his turn and let Cowley know all the details, and received his instructions.
Tea-time was over, and the dining-room was empty, but staff quickly put together a meal for the five men, who relaxed together and enjoyed it. Moulson was a changed man now, confident and self-assured, and completely at ease with the men around him, who were, after all, very much his own kind. As they finished, Moulson was called away to take another phone call. The others remained where they were, drinking their coffee in leisurely fashion.
Bodie turned to his friend. "Come on, mate," he said, "You've got another job to do."
Doyle looked puzzled. "What job ?," he asked.
"Well, you've got a bag to pack, haven't you ?," Bodie replied, "That is if you want a lift home. Or were you planning on staying on ?."
Doyle didn't need asking twice. He shot up the stairs at a run, and found Moulson in their room, already engaged in the same task, packing up his belongings. As soon as he saw Doyle, a smile lit his good-looking face, and he came forward to shake his hand warmly.
"I'll never be able to thank you enough," he said.
"I'm just glad it worked out," replied Doyle, and meant it.
He'd been rather dubious, possibly due to his state of health, when Cowley had first suggested this task, but once again his clever boss's instincts had been proved right.
"Can we give you a lift back to London ?," he suggested.
"No, thank you," replied Moulson. "There's a special team on its way to collect me. They'll be here soon."
"Do you think we'll meet again ?," asked Doyle.
"I think it's possible," said Moulson with a smile. "I'm not going abroad again for a while. I'm too well known out there. So I'll be working in London, like you. I'd like to keep in touch."
"So would I," said Doyle firmly. He'd grown to like the taciturn Johnny, and would very much like to know Moulson better.
He quickly packed his bag, mainly the few things Bodie had brought, and went downstairs. He said his 'goodbyes' to the doctors and the nursing staff, thanking them all for their help in getting him back to strength and fitness again. He climbed happily into the passenger seat of the big black car beside his team-mate, and relaxed.
They made a short detour to the village inn, where the others had been staying, to pick up their belongings. Then as the evening light began to fade, they set off on the long journey back to London.
"Glad to be going back ?," queried Bodie ,as he drove.
"You bet," said Doyle happily. "You can have too much rest, you know. It can make you lazy."
This raised smiles from all his listeners. They knew their man too well. The idea of him being content to sit about doing nothing was laughable.
"Oh, I bet Cowley will find something to keep us busy again," said Bodie.
Then in a different tone of voice, he said, "Welcome back, mate. We've missed you."