Authors: Sally Spencer
Table of Contents
The Charlie Woodend Mysteries
THE SALTON KILLINGS
MURDER AT SWANN'S LAKE
DEATH OF A CAVE DWELLER
THE DARK LADY
THE GOLDEN MILE TO MURDER
DEAD ON CUE
THE RED HERRING
DEATH OF AN INNOCENT
THE ENEMY WITHIN
A DEATH LEFT HANGING
THE WITCH MAKER
THE BUTCHER BEYOND
DYING IN THE DARK
A LONG TIME DEAD
SINS OF THE FATHERS
A DYING FALL
The Monika Paniatowski Mysteries
THE DEAD HAND OF HISTORY
THE RING OF DEATH
ECHOES OF THE DEAD
LAMBS TO THE SLAUGHTER
For Luis de AvendaÃ±o â
good friend and webmaster extraordinaire
This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
First published in Great Britain and the USA 2003 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9â15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
This eBook first published in 2013 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Ltd.
Copyright Â© 2003 by Sally Spencer
The right of Sally Spencer to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.
ISBN-13 978-0-7278-5931-0 (cased)
ISBN-13 978-1-4483-0087-7 (ePub)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
This eBook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Though in these safety-conscious days Bonfire Night is no longer quite the important event it used to be, in my childhood it was still regarded as a pretty big thing. What made it so special was that it stood out from Christmas and Easter in one hugely significant way. The latter two events were
to be for children, but were
organized by adults. Bonfire Night was ours. It would not have happened without us â and we knew it even then.
Preparations for the night began some weeks before. Once the site had been selected â and most sites, as evidenced by the charcoal circles permanently burnt into the ground, were used year after year â the kids began to collect the material they needed for their bonfire. Some of it was cut down from nearby woods (conservation was not such a big deal back then!); some of it collected from friends and family. The resulting structure, which could be anything up to thirty feet high, was a mishmash of things. Tree branches would protrude out of tea chests; doors from old garden sheds would balance precariously on top of discarded armchairs. And crowning the whole improbable structure would be the guy â a dummy dressed in old clothes, stuffed with balled-up newspaper and wearing a hideous cardboard mask.
But, to misquote a famous phrase from
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
, who was this guy? His name was Guido (Guy) Fawkes, and in the ten years preceding 1605, he had served as a mercenary in the King of Spain's army in the Netherlands. He returned to England to find the old place much changed. When he had left, the throne had been occupied by Elizabeth I, a monarch who, in the interests of domestic peace, had been willing to turn a partially blind eye to the practice of Roman Catholicism. The new king, James I, a dour Scot, was much less inclined to tolerate what he regarded as the Papal heresy, and for the first time in over a decade, Fawkes found himself unable to follow his religion openly.
He was not alone in his dismay, and was soon recruited into a conspiracy of like-minded Catholics. The main problem, they decided, was the king himself. If he could be assassinated, a more amenable monarch might take his place.
Once the plot had been articulated, the means of carrying it out became obvious. The king intended to open the new session of the Houses of Parliament on November 5th. It would be an ideal opportunity to kill him.
This would not be as difficult as it might at first appear. As incredible as this may seem to the modern reader, it was then possible to rent cellars under Parliament. This the conspirators did, packing it with enough barrels of gunpowder to blow the building sky high. Since there was virtually no security in those days, the plot would have stood a good chance of succeeding, had not one of the conspirators written to a friend to advise him not to attend Parliament that day. The friend became suspicious and handed the letter over to the authorities. The cellars were searched, and Guy Fawkes arrested.
He was tortured until he revealed the names of his fellow conspirators, then sentenced to death. Since his crime was treason, he was hung, drawn and quartered â a particularly barbarous form of execution in which he was cut from the gallows alive, had his intestines and genitals removed (a process he was made to watch) and then was sliced into four roughly equal parts. Several of his fellow conspirators suffered the same fate â and to the delight of countless generations of children to follow, Bonfire Night was born.
The means may be bloody
But where is our choice?
We must do what's needed
To silence the voice.
t had all seemed so easy when they'd watched it played out on the screen at the Saturday morning pictures. Sitting on the edge of their seats, the ice-lollies in their hands largely ignored, they had thrilled as the blackened-faced commandos reached the edge of the clearing and dropped to the ground. They'd gawped â wide-eyed and hardly daring to breathe â as their heroes wriggled rapidly on their bellies across the stretch of land which separated them from the barbed-wire fence guarded by the jack-booted men with the duelling scars.
âDon't get caught!' they'd mouthed silently. âDon't get caught!'
The suspense had been intolerable but â thankfully â short-lived. Even before the first sticky stream of melted ice-lolly had begun to run down the boys' hands, the commandos on the screen had risen to their feet again, and the Germans who might have raised the alarm lay dead.
What a thrill! What an adventure!
Real life, it was now becoming clear to them, was not like that at all. The black boot polish they had daubed liberally on their faces was starting to itch. The tea cosies they had borrowed from home did not fit as tightly as the soldiers' woollen caps had done, and so kept falling off their heads. But far worse than either of these things was the discovery that crawling along like a commando could hurt â could
The ground, already hardened by the early winter frosts, scraped mercilessly against their bare knees. Their progress, unlike that of commandos, was slow. Their lungs afire, they looked up, convinced they must have almost reached their target. Instead they saw that the wigwam shape, looming up against the dark early winter sky, seemed to be even further away from them than when they had started. And if all that were not enough, the petrol cans were not only difficult to drag along with them, but noisy, too.
Though neither was prepared to admit that he was the weaker of the pair, both suddenly found that they needed to stop crawling.
âWhy don't we just stand up, an'
across to the bonfire?' the older of the two gasped.
âWhat if it's guarded?' replied the younger, in a panic.
The elder rubbed his right knee, convinced that it was bleeding. âThere won't be no guards at this time of night.'
âBut you said there would be,' the younger one protested.
âI know, butââ'
âThat's what you told the others. You said it'd be dangerous.'
âI didn't really meanââ'
âAn' that was why we should be the ones to do it â 'cos we're the bravest members of the gang.'
âI know what I said,' the older one growled.
And he'd meant it â in the camp!
Back there, surrounded by broken furniture and old tyres, it had been perfectly reasonable to see the pair of them as Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn â scaling the cliffs of Navarone, planting the explosives to destroy all the enemy cannons. Out here, however â on this piece of cold, hard waste ground â he was finding it harder to sustain the illusion.
âSo what are we goin' to do?' the younger one asked. âHave we to call it off?'
The older one gave the prospect his very serious consideration.
No! he decided.
It was tempting, but it wasn't possible. He'd bragged to the others â perhaps a little too much, now he considered it â about what they were going to do. To call it off would mean a tremendous loss of face, and might even cost him his position as chief of the gang. Besides, if they retreated along the same route by which they'd arrived, that would involve more crawling. And he was
âThere won't be no guards,' he said firmly. âThey'll be at home â havin' their tea or watchin' the telly.'
âYou can't be sure of that,' his partner hissed hysterically.
âI will be in a minute,' the older one said, rising stiffly â and apprehensively â to his feet.
He glanced quickly and nervously around him, half-expecting that bigger boys â thirteen-or maybe even
-year-olds â would suddenly appear from behind the huge stack of wood.