David had parked his car up a farm track near to the top of Break Neck Hill. He was hidden from the road but had a view of it.
He watched and waited. Then he saw the dark blue Hillman Minx driving down the hill, slowing and then disappearing round the bend. He started the engine of his Austin and drove to Holly Mount.
Olivia was waiting for him. She wore slacks and a sweater and no make-up, her black hair tied back. She still looked beautiful.
“This way,” she said. From the hallway she led him up the wide stairway to the first floor. There were a number of doors to a number of rooms.
“Here,” she said and opened the white panelled door of a room facing the top of the stairs. “His study.”
They stepped in together. The room smelled of tobacco smoke. In the centre of the room was a large desk of polished walnut, the top covered in green tooled leather. There were papers, a glass ink stand, a brass lamp with a green shade. Behind the desk facing the door was a dark green, studded leather wing-back chair. David looked at it and pictured Drake sitting there.
Olivia walked over to the bay window behind the chair.
“It’s here,” she said. In the bay was a large padded window seat, covered in pale green cloth patterned with grey leaves and flowers.
She knelt and opened the seat.
“Try it,” she said.
He stepped into the long, narrow box and lay down, his legs curled up to his stomach.
She was still looking down at him.
“You could be there for more than an hour. Can you do it?”
“I’ll have to. We’re only going to get one chance, aren’t we?”
* * * *
The next night Andrew and Olivia Drake were in their drawing-room. Andrew sat by the window beneath a standard lamp, reading a newspaper. There was a drink on a small table by his elbow.
Olivia sat on the sofa with an open book before her. In the quiet of the room, a grandfather clock could be heard ticking away time. She kept going over things in her mind, running it through as though she was watching a film. They’d thought of everything, hadn’t they?
She looked over to her husband.
“Another drink, Andrew.” It was a statement, not a question.
He nodded. She mixed another gin and tonic, a strong one, put it at his elbow and returned to the sofa and her book And the clock ticked.
Mrs Norris was in the kitchen, rinsing the sink and wiping the work surface whilst dinner was cooking. She liked to clear up as she went along. She looked at the kitchen clock. It was quarter to seven and time for “Dick Barton, Special Agent”. The familiar exciting theme tune filled the kitchen.
The grandfather clock chimed the three quarter hour. Olivia closed her book.
“I think I’ll go and get my reading glasses. I’m getting a bit of a headache.”
Her husband glanced across.
“That’s what you get for vanity, you see.”
Olivia left the room, quietly looking into the kitchen as she passed. Mrs Norris had her back to her, standing by the window as Dick Barton escaped from the jaws of death once again.
At the far end of the landing there was a small door with a key in the lock and steps leading down to a store room and a larder. A servant’s stairway.
She pattered down to the door at the bottom. Two heavy bolts at the top and the bottom secured it. She slid them back and opened the door. David was standing there in the darkness.
They said nothing. He slipped past her and ran up the steps, and she fastened the bolts then followed.
The landing was clear. She nodded. He moved swiftly to the study.
Olivia ran downstairs again and into the drawing-room. Her husband looked up.
“Where are your glasses?” he said.
“Oh, er, I couldn’t find them. I must have put them down somewhere. It doesn’t matter anyway. Mrs Norris will be serving dinner soon.”