Times Change For Sister Joan – Episode 57

THE remainder of the evening was decidedly busy. Joan and the sisters, totally unhindered, went to chapel with Ben for evening prayers. The two villains were desperately trying to keep an eye on them but were much engaged in running up and down stairs.

“You’ve poisoned us!” Tony gasped.

“You gobbled your food too fast,” Clare said.

“The sauce was very rich,” Jan said innocently.

While the two men were otherwise engaged Joan quickly explained to the nuns what had been done.

“What a blessing it is,” Madeline said, “to have two bathrooms and a cloakroom downstairs. It’s so useful for the guests.”

“A blessing indeed, Sister.” Jan smiled.

At eleven fifteen the pale and exhausted men decided to take Ben to the beach.

Joan was fearful. Had her message made any sense to Father George? Had he remembered their talk about a code word? She had hoped that the men would be too ill to make the midnight deadline.

“Come, Sisters, we shall accompany these gentlemen and Ben to the beach.”

“Oh, no, you won’t!” Tony exclaimed.

“I feel sick.” Frankie groaned.

“Not now, Frankie!” Tony pleaded.

“We shall sing our evening hymn on the way,” Joan said.

They might be heard at Abbey Farm, she thought.

“No, you won’t!” an exasperated Tony said.

“Yes, we jolly well will,” Imelda countered. “We can harmonise now, you know.”

“I’ll be glad when this job’s done.” Frankie groaned. “I wanna go home.”

In retrospect Joan thought they must have been a strange sight – the villains, who were stumbling along a path unknown to them, pushing Ben in front, with the beautiful harmony of the Stella Maris hymn ringing out over the moonlit fields.

“We’re supposed to be quiet,” Tony growled.

As they reached the gate that opened on to the shore meadow, a man stepped out in front of them, silhouetted against the night sky. He was dressed all in black with a motorcycle helmet tucked under his arm.

“Stop right there!” He held up a hand.

“Oh, Father George – it’s you!” Joan exclaimed in relief. “You understood my message!”

“Of course I did, Sister, and I’m not alone. PC Bradley is here, too, and the crew of the Stella Maris yacht.”

Joan was puzzled.

“I don’t understand.”

“The crew of the yacht are the French police. They’ve been on the alert from day one, waiting for this moment,” Father George explained.

“The coastguard picked up a vessel on their radar that was unidentified. The boat that was sent to collect Ben rounded the point and a smaller launch beached here, where we were waiting for them. So, as it happens, was a very angry old Jack. He’d finished the treats we’d bribed him with and he’d had enough of all these people disturbing his rest. One of the criminals has an injury to his arm – bites, I believe. They’re aboard the yacht now, ready to sail with the tide to face their punishment.”

“Run, Frankie!” Tony released his hold on Ben and made to push past the nuns.

Catching his foot against something, he fell and Frankie fell on top of him.

“Oh, my word – me and my big clumsy feet,” Imelda said innocently.

“I was worried when I didn’t hear the Vespa,” Joan confessed.

“I went to Abbey Farm,” Father George said. “Mr Murray’s here, too. We all heard you singing so we had time to be ready for you.”

“What did you think of the harmony?” Ben said.

“Very impressive,” Father George replied.

“We’ll take these two now.”

“Hello, Captain!” Ben greeted the speaker.

“Ah!” The man smiled. “The farmworker with the delicate hands. You didn’t fool us for a moment.”

“How about the lone nun?” Ben asked.

The captain frowned.

“That also was you?” he asked in disbelief.

“It sure was!” Imelda declared.

“You British!” the captain exclaimed. “You are too clever.”



Alison Cook