Julian darted up through the hole, torch in hand. He swung the beam around until it picked out Sally, hands tied together in her lap, ankles bound and gagged, laying full length on the cold wooden floor. Julian was by her in a shot, sitting her up as the wind whipped around them. He rested her head against his shoulder, and pulled her gag off before reaching for his pocket knife. Sally sobbed against his shoulder as he deftly cut the bonds around her hands and ankles.
“It’s all right,” he called down to David and Darrell. “She’s here! Don’t come up, I’ll bring her down in a second. Better get that hot chocolate ready Darrell.”
Julian rubbed Sally’s back as her hands clutched at his jacket.
“It’s all right,” he whispered against her hair, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “We’re here, we’ve got you.” He wrapped his arms around her, trying to keep her warm as she sobbed uncontrollably for a few moments.
“Someone pass me that blanket will you?” Julian called after a moment. David’s head popped up through the hole and passed the blanket to Julian, who promptly tucked it around Sally.
“Good to have you back Sally,” David said, before disappearing back down the hole.
Sally managed a small laugh as she clung to Julian. Julian looked out over St Andrews; it was quite a view from up here that was for sure, but the wind was whipping up a storm and he was sure that he could feel raindrops against his skin, coming through the windows.
He looked down at Sally, who for him rivalled the magnificence of St Andrews from this vantage point.
“Do you think you might be well enough to get down that step ladder, out of the elements for some warm hot chocolate and some food?” Julian asked her softly.
“Not in the slightest,” Sally said, her teeth chattering. “But I’ll try.”
“That’s a girl,” Julian said warmly. He pulled back from her to stand up, and then carefully helped her to her feet. The wind whipping around them threatened to through them off balance. This would have certainly meant that they would have tumbled through the glassless windows.
“David!” Julian called down to his friend. “We’re coming down, but you’ll have to give Sally a hand down.”
“Righto! Ready and waiting,” David called back up to him. Julian helped Sally hobble to the trap door.
“Sit on the side here,” Julian shouted over the wind as it picked up. “I’ll lower you down and David can catch you from below.”
Sally turned to face him, her hair whipping over her face. She didn’t say anything but pressed a kiss to his cheek. Julian felt the blush spread over his face. He helped Sally sit down on the edge of the trap door. She had been shaken up too much for Julian to be prepared to let her walk down the ladder on her own.
Julian took the Sally’s weight as he prepared to lower her down, his recently unbound shoulder protesting at being asked to support so much extra weight, but Julian ignored it.
“Got her!” David called a second later, and Julian felt Sally slip away from him.
David smiled at Sally as he gently dropped her to the floor. “You had us worried there!” he told her, with a wink. “It was only because Julian is as good as sniffer dog that we found you!”
He didn’t get a reply as Darrell had flung herself on Sally and the two of them were almost sobbing by the time Julian came down the ladder.
“I think it’s time for a quick sit down so Sally can get her breath back, and something warm inside her, and then we get out of here,” Julian said, pulling the trap door back into place and shutting out the worst of the cold.
“Better take a note of everything up here, in case they clear out before the police arrive,” David said as he put the ladder back in its place.
“Good idea,” Julian agreed, pulling a note book and pencil out of his bag. David took them from him with a small smile.
“You go and organise the girls,” he told Julian.
Darrell and Sally had sat down in a corner and Sally was wrapped up in her warm coat, the blanket with some gloves on and a hot drink in her hands. Darrell had her arm around her friend as they just sat.
“Do you think you’ll be well enough to get down those stairs in a few moments?” Julian asked crouching down in front of the girls. “I don’t think we should stay up here too long.”
“Well I certainly don’t want to stay here a moment longer,” Sally admitted, sniffing slightly.
“I think it’s a visit to the san for you,” Darrell added to her friend. “You might have hypothermia or something.”
Sally managed a laugh, though it was clear she was very cold.
“Do you think you can walk?” David asked over Julian’s shoulder.
“I think so, but I might be a bit slow at first, and it’s a spiral staircase,” Sally said, carefully. “I’m suddenly not too sure how I am about heights.”
“We’ll get you down,” Julian said reassuringly. He reached over and gave her arm a squeeze before standing up and moving back over to David.
“I don’t suppose you’ve found a code book anywhere have you?” Julian asked him, as David kicked the oilskins lightly.
“There might be one in the pockets of these,” David said motioning to the oilskins. “But I haven’t come across one on its own.”
“Let’s have a quick look shall we?” Julian said, crouching down again to lift up the heavy oilskin jacket.
The boys searched through the pockets but came up with nothing.
“You can’t win them all,” David said with a shrug as they dumped the oilskins back in their spot. “We had better get going; otherwise we will meet someone on the way down.”
Reluctantly the girls got to their feet, Darrell helping Sally up.
“Do we risk being tied together on the way down Ju?” Darrell asked as Julian handed Sally his spare torch.
Julian and David looked at each other over the girl’s heads and David gave a little shrug.
“I think we may be all right going down the stairs,” Julian said. He looked at Sally and then added. “You come behind me and Darrell can follow you. That way we can look after you as needs be.”
“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” Sally whispered, tucking her blanket around herself a little tighter. Julian raised an eyebrow at her.
“Don’t argue,” he said simply. Then he smiled. “If it wasn’t so twisted I’d give you a piggy back.” That got a smile from Sally and a snigger from the other two.
“All right, single file,” Julian said switching his torch on and heading back down the stairs.
Sally stumbled once or twice, but managed to keep going. It took them a little longer to get down the stairs then it did to get up them, because Julian kept a slower pace for Sally to manage.
Once they were at the bottom the tower, they decided it would be safer if they tied themselves together as they went back through the tunnel. David insisted on leading this time, having gotten fed up of being at the back. Julian let him without an argument. Now they walked back through the cold tunnel with David leading, Darrell behind him, then Sally and then Julian.
While they were in the tunnel, they didn’t say much, each of them beginning to feel very tired after all the excitement, and Sally was especially tired. Julian bumped into her at one point as they rounded the corner back to the hole they had climbed in through and wasn’t surprised to feel her shaking. In the darkness, he reached for her hand and gave it a comforting squeeze. Neither of them let go until they reached the entrance.
David climbed up the rope first, followed by Darrell, leaving Sally and Julian in the dark.
“How are we getting Sally up?” David called back down the hole. Julian looked at Sally who was almost dosing against his shoulder. Julian flashed his light up at David.
“If I tie the rope around her waist can you pull her up?” Julian asked him.
“We should have done this the other way,” David muttered. “You and I should have come up and Darrell should have stayed down there with Sally.”
“No use quibbling now,” Julian said, exasperated. “Have you got any better ideas?”
“I’m afraid I don’t,” David said, shaking his head. “All right, you tie the rope around her and we’ll get Sally up here, and I may send the rope back for you.”
Julian ignored David as he took the end of the end of the rope and coaxed Sally out of her dose.
“Wake up sleepy,” Julian said gently. “We’re going to tie this around you waist then David will pull you up out of here and then we can get you into a warm bed somewhere.”
Sally complied easily enough, not having enough energy to protest. Once the rope was securely attached to her waist, she climbed up the sloping shoot, with David pulling her gently to stop her from slipping.
Utterly exhausted by now, Sally managed to scramble clumsily out of the small hole, and out of the tower. Darrell pulled her close, putting an arm around her shoulders as they waited for Julian to follow the rest of them out.
The boys were just winding the ropes up and putting them back into the bags when Darrell spotted something at the other end of the cathedral grounds. She saw a light flash.
“Hurry up!” she hissed at the boys, clicking her own torch out. “There’s someone coming!”
The boys looked around at the sound of her warning and stuff the ropes back into the bags. They clicked out their torches as well.
“Out the side entrance on the other side of the wall, quickly,” Julian hissed, taking hold of Sally’s hand. They scuttled through the archway of the wall and slipped out of the un-gated side entrance on to the coastal road. They ran as fast as they could, Julian helping Sally as much as possible until they reached the back entrance to the boy’s halls.
“Let’s go inside and sit down,” David said after a moment, as they rested their back against the wall surrounding St Salvator’s. “We can catch our breath, warm Sally up and hash this out before we get her to the san and all the evidence we’ve got to the police.”
“I don’t think that there will be too many people in the common room,” Julian agreed. “Why don’t you go ahead and scout it out David and meet us at the front door if we have to go up to one of our rooms?”
“Good point. See you in a minute,” David said, darting off through the back gate towards the front door.
“Are you sure it’s a good idea for us to be in your halls Julian?” Darrell asked a moment later as they helped Sally around the building to the front door.
“No, but it’s closest, and we can go up to one of our rooms if needs be, anyway, we all need a rest, five or ten minutes won’t matter too much. Sally’s safe, certain people don’t know we’ve got that paper,” Julian said as the slowly reached the front door of St Salvator’s.
“I don’t know if ten minutes rest will cut it,” Sally said sleepily as Julian pulled out the key for the front door. “Ten hours might be a different matter of course.”
Julian and Darrell chuckled a little as Julian opened the door. David was standing there.
“No go on the common room, better be one of our rooms,” he said. “It had better be yours,” he added a second later. “Mine’s in a frightful state.”
“Can you manage four flights of stairs?” Julian asked Sally. She laughed weakly.
“You strong boys may have to carry her,” Darrell said. Julian and David chuckled a little.
“Shall we see how you go first,” Julian said, taking Sally’s arm and tucking it in his own. Sally smiled at him as they headed towards the stairs.
A few minutes later Sally and Darrell were sitting in Julian’s room while Julian and David fetched some hot drinks and some food. Still a little chilly, and with Julian’s permission, Sally had wrapped herself in the top blanket from his bed and sat down on the bed. Darrell was sitting next to her, arm around her to share some body heat.
Just as the girls were about to dose off, there was a clatter from outside and the boys appeared manhandling an electric heater between them.
Darrell sat up in utter amazement.
“What on earth do you think you’re doing?” she asked, astonished.
“Well a friend of ours on this floor is letting us borrow it for a little while,” David grunted. “We thought why not?”
Darrell settled back down and shook her head as she watched the boys manhandle the heater into the middle of the room and manage to find somewhere to plug it in, before Julian went off with a tray to get some hot coffee and biscuits.
“Are you warming up, Sally?” David asked as he sat in Julian’s desk chair.
“Just about,” Sally said sleepily. “I do wish Julian would hurry up, I need to tell you all what happened.”
“And we’ve got plenty to be telling you as well,” Julian’s voice said as he backed into the room holding a tray of steaming hot mugs of coffee and a packet of biscuits under one arm.
“I always knew a man could be domesticated,” Sally teased him as he offered her the first mug of coffee. She took it thankfully, and leant forward, taking the packet of biscuits out from under his arm.
Soon they were all drinking coffee and munching biscuits as they filled Sally in on what they had found since she had been kidnapped. They told her about finding the page from Ainsworth’s bag, and then tracking her to the tower.
Sally sat forward, some of her tiredness forgotten as she listened, thrilled that her friends had been so daring and brilliant in coming to find her. Then she blushed as she remembered how stupid she’d been when Ainsworth had taken her for a walk under a supposedly innocent context.
When it was her turn to tell them what had happened, she felt very foolish, but as befitting her personality she didn’t leave out a single thing. She spoke from the moment she had left Julian, explaining about that café, and Ainsworth turning up. She even told them that she had mentioned that they had been looking for the papers.
She didn’t even look up from her coffee as she told them that part.
“I’m ever so sorry,” she managed to whisper, her eyes heavy with unshed tears. “I was just talking and talking and it came out. I know I shouldn’t have.”
She didn’t look up when she felt someone sitting on the bed next to her, and Darrell move. She sniffed a little and rubbed her eyes with the corner of Julian’s blanket as a strong arm hugged her close and her face was buried against Julian’s jersey. She felt David giving her hand a squeeze and Darrell hugging her around her waist.
No one spoke, they just all sat for a few moments. Sally closed her eyes and rubbed her face slightly against the solid warmth of Julian’s chest.
“Never mind all that,” David said, after a moment. “What is done is done, and no one’s too much the worse for it! Now what else happened to you? Was it actually Ainsworth who got you up into that tower?”
“Yes it was,” Sally said, pulling back from Julian. She gave his jumper a little rub where she’d cried on to it. “He got me to walk with him, quite pleasantly to the ruins where he said we wouldn’t be overheard, and got me talking about what we had been trying to find out. I guess that was it really, the fact that we were trying to find out who it was, more than anything else. The cathedral was deserted when we reached it and we’d just got under that archway when he grabbed my arm and twisted it behind me. I remember being shocked for a moment before I realised what was happening. I stamped on his foot I think, hard, and while he was cursing at me, I managed to work my brooch open and throw it down.”
She looked a little bashful. “It was the only thing I had on me really.”
“It was a very good thing to throw down,” Darrell said squeezing her shoulder. “Julian spotted it almost immediately. Go on Sally.”
“Well I think there was someone following us, because Ainsworth shoved me towards the hole in the wall pretty quickly after that, and crouched in with me, his hand over my mouth so I couldn’t scream. I didn’t see who it was, but he walked past us.”
“That will have been Pilkington,” Julian said, nodding at the others. “He followed you and Ainsworth out of the café. He must have heard what you were saying as well and followed you in case he heard more!”
“Well whoever it was, I wish he’d arrived sooner,” Sally said with a shiver. She looked at the others. “I remember Ainsworth tying my hands together in front of me before he pushed me down that hole. Next thing I knew I was all the way at the top of the tower, hands and legs bound, and gagged. He just left me up there. If you hadn’t have arrived when you did, I shudder to think if I would have been alive to tell the tale!”
They all took a moment to consider this terrible fact. Julian hugged Sally close again for a moment.
“What I would like to know is how come that handkerchief ended up on the floor when it wasn’t there when I started exploring the tower?” David asked.
“That was fairly simple,” Sally said with a little laugh. “I was sitting up at that point and had found that I had a surprising about a freedom with my hands tied in front of me, I managed to pull it out of my pocket and drop it down when your torch light flashed up through the window. I didn’t know if you had found my brooch you see, and hoped that that if nothing else would help you find me.”
“Well it did,” David said with a smile. “And Julian’s marvellous discovery of the passage under the walls that was what really saved you.”
“Well that was just luck,” Julian said. “I remembered that it was possible and thought I would have a look and see.”
“Well even so, it was amazing luck,” Darrell said warmly.
They paused for a moment.
“So,” Darrell said, changing the direction of their conversation. “We know who’s up to his teeth in spying and stealing and kidnapping, but how do we prove it, and where are the papers?”
“Well we have one of the papers, and the police have one,” David said slowly. “There has to be some way into trapping Ainsworth in this all.”
“Oh but there is,” Julian said, his eyes gleaming. “You didn’t all think that it took me that long to make coffee do you?”
They all looked at him in surprise.
“I phoned the police station and told them what we knew, I told the inspector that we’d be along as soon as we’d warmed up.”
“Well I never!” Darrell exclaimed.
“You could knock me down with a feather!” David said.
“Always knew you were clever,” Sally murmured.
“I take it that there is also a plan?” David asked.
“Of course,” Julian said. “However it’s only to get Ainsworth in the frame. I somehow doubt it will turn up the rest of the papers. We’d better get going if we’re to meet the inspector. David, help me take these to the kitchen will you?” he added, motioning to the mugs, as they all started to get ready.
David nodded and helped collect the mugs as he pulled on his jacket.
“They’re up to something,” Darrell muttered when the boys had left the room.
“That was as clear as day,” Sally said, tucking the blanket back around her. She looked at Darrell who was smirking at her a little.
“I’m still cold,” Sally said in her defence.
“I would believe that if you hadn’t only picked up Julian’s blanket,” Darrell said.
“Did I?” Sally asked looking at the blanket that she had wrapped around her. “Oh.”
“Come on Sally,” Darrell said with a smirk. She tucked her arm through her friend’s and headed out the door to find the boys. They met them as they came out of the kitchen.
“All sorted?” Darrell asked them.
“Yes,” Julian said as David snorted.
“You three head along to the station and I’ll meet you there in a few moments,” David said, heading off towards the common room.
“What’s gotten into him?” Sally asked, surprised. Julian shrugged.
“I don’t know, just said that he had something to do! Come on, let’s get on and tell the police what we know!”
Half an hour later they had finished telling the police everything they knew and Julian had handed over the second sheet of notes that they had found. Julian had also filled the inspector in on the plan he had spent some time forming.
“My Lord boy! You certainly have covered everything haven’t you?” said the inspector. “I like it. One thing worries me though, how do you know that this chap will go back for the paper?”
“Easy sir,” Julian said. “Our friend, David has gone off to tell him that he left some papers behind in the changing rooms, and that we left them there for him as he rushed off.”
The inspector slapped his desk and laughed.
“I’d love to have more lads like you in the police,” he said with a laugh. “All right lad, we’ll try it your way. I’ll get my men around there now.”
“Please Sir, may we come with you?” Julian asked, motioning to himself and the girls. “And David said he would be here soon. Please Sir?”
“It’s highly irregular,” said the inspector. “And it could be dangerous.” He paused and looked at the three of them.
“All right, but you have to do as I say, understood?”
“Yes Sir!” the three of them chorused.
“Good. Now you go and wait for your friend out the front and I’ll be out to collect you in a few moments,” the inspector said firmly.
The three were ushered into the waiting room of the police station by the inspector to wait for David, who to their surprise was already there, grinning widely. David walked over to them and introduced himself to the inspector.
“I found him, Sir, like Julian told me to about five minutes ago,” David said calmly. “He pretended not to be interested but I guess he’ll be there in ten minutes or so, when he can shake off his friends.”
“That is some most excellent work, young man. You wait with your friends here and a car will be around shortly to take you down there. I must make some phone calls before we set off however, please excuse me,” the inspector said, motioning them to sit in the waiting room seats.
The four collapsed into their seats and waited for a car to arrive to take them to the university. They were all too tired to speak beyond Darrell asking what was going on.
“You’ll see,” Julian said, sleepily, resting his head back against the wall. He smiled a little.
“I’m very glad he’s letting us be there, I can’t wait to see Ainsworth’s face,” he murmured as he felt Sally’s head rest against his shoulder.
Lucky for Darrell and David that Julian was looking at the ceiling and couldn’t see the two of them exchanging smirks.
Soon they were being bundled into a car and driven to the university playing fields. With little noise the four of them were then taken into the boys changing rooms and hidden in the showers, where it was thought unlikely for Thomas Ainsworth to check when looking for his precious paper.
A police man and women were left with them just in case anything should go wrong. In the gloom of the night lights that were on, and hidden just out of sight, Darrell, Julian, David and Sally could see a good chunk of the changing room and what was going on.
In the various spaces in the changing room, armed policemen were hiding and the sheet of notes had been placed in one of the bins by the entrance to the playing field.
“Quiet now, no one moves until the lad has actually pocketed the piece of paper, and you keep those lads and ladies out of the way until we have the chap in cuffs,” the inspector ordered from his hiding place behind the lockers. Everyone grew very still as Julian’s plan became a waiting game.