• Author: Orbost, Location: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 3:21 pm

Green Park was near deserted so early in the morning ? a few officer workers scurrying to their desks, an occasional dog-walker disgruntled to be out in the wet (not that the dogs seemed to mind), a team of gardeners preparing the flower beds for Spring planting. Charlie Hargreaves was slumped on a park bench, his hands in his pockets, watching his cotton pants dampen in the morning drizzle. He supposed he should move on before he was soaked head to toe, but the idea of sitting in the rain whilst everyone else dashed for cover amused him. So he sat and smiled at the world, wondering what on earth he should do next.

He had arrived on the early morning train from Oxford, and without anywhere immediate to stay, nor any clear plan of what he was to do, he had headed to the park to rest his feet. Last night, he realised, had been the first New Year's Eve for many a year that he had not celebrated. Perhaps this was a sign of his growing maturity, that he had stayed at the college to pack his suitcase and tidy his room, rather than join his mates at the local hostelry. He grimaced theatrically at the idea, 'Charlie my boy, there's still life in you yet, you old dog!'

Perhaps he should walk up to Soho for breakfast. That was always quite a lively area, and as good a place to look for lodgings as anywhere else. At that moment, the heavens opened, and Charlie grabbed his suitcase, dashed for the cover of a large oak tree, and waited there for the rain to pass.

  • Author: Laveaux, PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2005 1:26 pm

The tree Charlie found shelter under was one of several dozen that borded a concrete path through the green acreage of the park. He was not alone under the sweetly smelling branches. A chubby-faced man with a bowler cap and three-peice suit was seated on the ground, leaning against the trunk with his eyes closed.

His extreme stillness was likely due to a night of heavy drinking. Charlie's sudden appearance next to him did not affect the man's slumber in any way.

A small manila folder rested in his lap and his limp hands sat on top of it. Other than that, he seemed to have no possessions around him at all.

  • Author: Orbost, Location: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2005 4:02 pm

Well, Charlie thought to himself, at least someone had a good time this New Years Eve! His mind flitted back to some of the strange places he had awoken in after a heavy night on the brandy or port platform 2 at St Albans train station, the library at Trinity College (in the philosophy section if he remembered correctly), in the bottom of a punt tied up at Cherwell boathouse, and once in a dormitory at St Hildas, from where he had been chased by a furious matron wielding a poker from the open fireplace. A quick, loud laugh burst from Charlie?s lips at the memory, and then he remembered the sleeping fellow by his side, and clamped one hand over his mouth to stifle the noise.

'You' ll catch a chill in this weather if you sleep there too long'. Charlie slid his back down the tree, until he was sitting on his haunches next to the fellow. He reached his hand across, and gave him a gentle shake on the shoulder. He spoke a little louder, ?I said, you?ll catch a chill, old chap?.

  • Author: Laveaux, PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2005 11:52 am

Charlie's recollection of his flamboyant escapades with liquor threw a chuckle into the air, but it did not falter the chubby-faced man in the slightest. It wasn't until Charlie gently tugged on his shoulder did the man move at all. But not in the way one would expect.

He collapsed onto his side, his arms falling uselessly over, the momentum tossing his manila folder onto the grass. It was only then realized that he was not resting against the trunk as much as he was propped there. It also then became sickenly apparent that this man was not breathing.

  • Author: Orbost, Location: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2005 3:02 pm

The realisation that the gentleman was not breathing sent a shockwave through Charlie's system. He sat back hard with his hands behind him on the ground, his breathing quickened and the colour momentarily drained from his face. He was aware that all the muscles in his body were suddenly tense, and he made a conscious effort to pull himself together. Was the man really not breathing? Was he sure about that?

Charlie flashed a glance around the park, looking for anyone nearby who might be able to help. Seeing no-one, he swallowed hard, his tongue thick and dry in his mouth, and pushed himself forward. He reached ahead, rather hesitantly, and leant over the sprawled body to feel the man?s neck for a pulse.

Please let him not be dead, he thought to himself, I must be mistaken, he?s just sleeping?yeah, keep telling yourself that old boy...not dead just sleeping?

  • Author: Operator, PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 12:57 pm

There was no one else in the immediate vicinity. The sudden mist that had sprung up with the brief downpour made visibility uncertain beyond a few paces. The sound birds twittering in the tree broke the monotony of the drizzle.

As Charlie examined the man, he found that there was no pulse and his flesh was quite cold to the touch. There was no telling how long he had been sitting there, dead.

  • Author: Orbost, Location: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 3:04 pm

Charlie?s fingers rested on the man?s neck for as short a time as possible, and then he pulled his hand back, and nervously rubbed his fingers clean against his jacket. With the mist closing in, the outside world seemed to disappear, and Charlie felt isolated and alone.

I suppose I should get some help, he thought to himself. Was there a police box on Picadilly, across the park? Or perhaps outside Buckingham Palace or St James Palace? Almost certainly, but in the light mist he was not confident of the quickest route, or of finding his way back to this poor fellow. No, better to stay here for a few minutes and wait for a passer-by to arrive.

He caught sight of the manila folder lying in the damp grass to one side. Should I take a peek, he wondered, perhaps this would give some clue as to who the poor gentleman is? I?d rather busy myself than just sit idly by a corpse until someone passes by. So Charlie glanced nervously around again, and then grabbed the folder. He opened the front cover and scanned through, looking for something that might identify his fallen comrade.

  • Author: Operator, PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 3:38 pm

The folder contained a small stack of curious documents: several maps, some hand-drawn in hasty scrawl, some torn from the pages of notebooks and one printed quite professionally on a sheet of lightweight paper; some notebook pages in what may have been Latin or Greek... or something else entirely; and an unsigned note in English with the words ?Meet Noon St. Dunstan?s Rear. Ambrogio.?

Most of the maps looked to be of the coastal areas or of London proper and bore notations in German. The most foreboding was a partial London map labeled ?Target Area A?. Though not all locations were labeled, it appeared to show the sites of major war-time bombing activity in East London as well as a clear map of the various tube stations in that area.

The sound of ambulance sirens cut through the air. It sounded fairly close to where Charlie stood.

Closer still was an ear-splitting shriek. A woman in a thick shawl nearly stumbled upon Charlie and his ?friend?. She took one look at the young man crouched over the incapacitated gentleman and ran off the way she had come. ?Help! Murder! Help!?

  • Author: Orbost, Location: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 5:35 pm

The contents of the folder were certainly intriguing, and Charlie found his fingers were tightly gripping the pages as he read. Was this man a spy? A government agent? Perhaps a RAF intelligence officer?

His concentration was broken, first by the clanging bell of the ambulance, and then immediately after by the scream of the woman who seemed to appear out of nowhere through the fog. At her shriek, Charlie jumped to his feet, taken aback by her appearance and reaction.

?Madam, no, it?s not?.? he started to say to her fleeing figure, before he realised how suspicious he must have looked. His initial instinct was to run, to escape into the mist and leave this nightmare scene behind him. But instead he swallowed down his panic, took a deep breath and tried to think calmly about his situation. I?ve done nothing wrong, just found a body in the park, was going to call the police any moment, I?ll just tell them what I have found, the authorities can take care of things.

He quickly closed the file, placed it back on the ground next to the unfortunate gentleman. He stood up, called out ?Over here! Over here!?, and waited for the ambulance to find him.

  • Author: Operator, PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 8:31 pm

The sound of the ambulance drew near. But how could they know to come? Had someone discovered the body earlier and simply left to make a call? Or perhaps they were answering another call nearby.

A voice called through the mist, from beyond the trees off to Charlie's right. "Signor! You cannot let them catch you here. Quickly, bring the map!"

Over toward the street, the ambulance could be seen pulling almost right up onto the grass. It knocked over a waste bin before coming to a rather reckless stop.

  • Author: Orbost, Location: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 4:32 am

The voice from the trees threw Charlie into momentary confusion. Signor??? An English park, maps with German notation, and now an Italian calling to him What the devil was going on? And how indeed had the ambulance arrived so quickly? There was little time to think, and Charlie was forced to act on instinct.

He grabbed the folder from the ground with one hand, and with a last desparate glance at the approaching ambulance, set off at a run for the voice in the trees. What on earth am I doing, oh please let this be the right thing He pushed himself hard, eager to reach the safety of the treeline and mist...

  • Author: Operator, PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 11:46 am

A last look back at the ambulance showed its doors swinging open and its occupants emerging. A driver, a nurse and two attendants. Something was wrong though. Were pistols standard equipment for ambulance personnel? German machine pistols? The small patch of the park disappeared into the mists.

Charlie continued his flight into the fog, managing somehow to evade the trees that suddenly appeared to be more numerous and less manicured than he had initially thought. A hand reached forward to offer support and a hand up...

...onto the platform of a canvas-covered, horse-drawn wagon.

?Quickly, Signor, we must get you to the Abbey.? The voice belonged to a short, middle-aged man with dark hair, a long curled mustache and thin goatee. He was wearing what appeared to be a costume of some sort. Hose, leather slippers, a muslin shirt. A wool sash bearing the device of a white shield with three rosettes.

The file folder that Charlie thought he?d been carrying turned out to be a piece of gold-embroidered fabric wound round a wooden baton.

The sounds of a heavy thunderstorm filled the sky overhead. It clashed with the ringing out of blade striking blade that came from back in the park, and with the clopping sound of horse hooves as the wagon lurched into motion.

  • Author: Orbost, Location: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 2:53 pm

Charlie needed little assistance and he heaved himself into the back of the carriage and landed on its floor heavily. "What's going on Sir?" Charlie started to say unitl he caught sight of the man's attire, and confusion grabbed hold of him. "I'm sorry, are you off to a fancy dress party?"

The clash of blades distracted him, and a glance at the baton that seemed to have appeared in his hand, threw him completely. Normally so suave and sophisticated, Charlie could do little more than mumble incoherently "Who...what is...WHAT IS GOING ON?"

  • Author: Operator, PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 4:27 pm

The baton, a simple wooden rod topped on each end with a bronze bulb, was wound round with a thick piece of fabric that was richly embroidered and fastened with a crimson ribbon. The little man seemed completely oblivious to Charlie's reaction.

"We must meet with Padre Ambrose. He has assured me that he has the perfect means to get the map over to Eastern lands. Then we will sail with the key for Sir Bram's outpost up north." Suddenly he looked at Charlie in concern. "You are injured? You should have said so, Signor. Let me help." Indeed Charlie's brown doublet was sliced right below his chest and blood was welling up from a wound. The Italian continued speaking as he produced some cloth and began applying it to stop the bleeding. "I do not know how the Papists found our meeting place. Someone will pay dearly for that. I would that we had time for you to rest after your long voyage, but we must now move with all speed."

Charlie found himself slipping into unconsciousness, partially from shock and partially due to the motion of the carriage. Darkness crept in at the corners of his vision while the Italian continued his one-sided conversation...

... Charlie awoke to the slightly bumpy rhythm of a London bus ride. He was sprawled over two seats in the rear of an otherwise empty bus, the file folder clutched securely in the crook of his arm. Up ahead the driver was cursing colorfully about some manner of delay in the street ahead.

  • Author: Orbost, Location: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 5:33 pm

Sometimes you wake feeling lost and confused, not knowing where you are, and it takes a few minutes for reality to assert itself. Charlie felt that now, a dislocation from his surroundings, an uncertain fragment of time while his brain struggled to get itself in gear. He lay on the seat momentarily, accustoming his senses to the familiar sounds of bus travel - the uneven vibration of the engine shuddering through his right ear, the gentle screech of the brakes, the muttering of the driver in his cabin.

He picked over the fragments of memory, trying to unravel his dreams from reality. The dead body, German machine-guns, the stranger in the mist, the baton and the wound. His fingers subconsciously probed his chest, feeling for where the wound had been. Clearly he had been dreaming, and yet?it all seemed so real.

He was starting to doubt his memory of all those events, when he noticed the manila folder under his elbow, and he sat up straight on the seat. It was real! Or?parts of it, at least.

Charlie peered through the window, trying to identify his surroundings. Heaven only knew how long he had been on this bus for. ?Excuse me, what bus is this? Where are we headed to??

  • Author: Operator, PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 9:05 pm

"Drum in the field! We're off to Ding Dong, by the school. Take a look at this bloody mess." The driver had pulled the bus over and parked, all set to take a walk outside. Then he spotted Charlie.

"Sorry fella. Didn't think anyone was still on me ride. You alright? Maybe some fresh air'd do you better than lyin' cross them seats. We're not going anywhere for the time bein'."

He gestured outside. Traffic had come to a standstill due tyo some manner of obstruction up ahead. There was the sound of a work crew hammering away at concrete.

"Dunstan's Hill then - what's left of her."

  • Author: Orbost, Location: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 9:46 pm

Charlie?s knowledge of London was far from perfect ? was Dunstan?s Hill in the City somewhere? The name sounded familiar, and it took his somewhat disconnected brain a moment to remember why. He opened the folder and flicked through until he found the note ?Meet Noon St. Dunstan?s Rear. Ambrogio.? Was there a connection? Surely, this could not be a coincidence?

?Well Charlie, you wanted adventure, and you seem to have found some!? he whispered under his breath. He desperately needed some time to think, a moment of respite where he could relax and take in what had happened to him. He clambered to his feet, tucked the folder inside his jacket, and headed for the door to see what was going on.

?Um, there wouldn?t be a church around here somewhere, would there?? he asked the bus driver, ?And would you have the time on you??

  • Author: The Ambassador, PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 7:22 pm

"Church, eh?" The bus driver looked Charlie up and down, "Hmm, looks like you been on a bender, hmm? Hmm!?" The driver tried to lift the spirits of Charlie, who probably looked like he had hit the sauce or something and wasn't having the greatest of days.

The driver gave up rather quick though, "Well, this bus ain't getting 'round that anytime soon." He said with a jerk of his up the road. "Ah, bugger--but, but yeah, there's a church 'round these parts somewhere. Don't exactly know where." He said scratchin' his head. "There's a general store, just up ahead, this side of the road. Ya might be able--yep you can, you can see right there. They got a tele, probably call get yourself a taxi. Church can't be far from here, shouldn't cost ya more than eight or nine cash. They prolly tell ya more 'bout the church. Well, I believe we part here friend, lemme get your luggage."

The driver went to an undercarriage and grabbed bags that looked familiar to Charlie, "Just up ahead, friend." He said setting the luggage at his feet, and pointing again to the store in plain view. "I better get back in the bus, the god lord knows I'll take the walk with ya, and it clear up just as I get there. See ya 'round."

  • Author: Orbost, Location: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:01 am

My bags! Thank heavens! Charlie thought to himself. He had no recollection of even getting on the bus, let alone storing his bags in the undercarriage. He had few enough belongings as it was, without worrying about finding a change of clothes.

?Righto, thanks for your help?, he touched his fingers to the brim of his hat in thanks, and nodded at the kindly driver, ?have a good day now!?

Charlie looked around again, seeking some landmark that would identify his location ? perhaps a street name, or familiar monument. He stood in the street for a moment collecting himself, breathed in and exhaled a deep breath, and then picked up his luggage and strode purposefully up the street to the shop. The shop bell tinkled as he pushed open the door, and he looked around for the shopkeeper.

?Good morning Sir! Perhaps you could help me, I?m more than a little lost I?m afraid?.might I find a St Dunstan?s church hereabouts? Oh, and would you have the time on you??

I?m guessing you might be American, Ambassador? Forgive me for being a pedantic Brit, but we have ?shops? in England, not ?stores?. Very Happy

  • Author: Operator, PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:08 pm

Charlie found himself on Lower Thames Street. The fog and smell drifted up from the river, giving the area a somewhat gamy air. The sign at the shop on the corner proclaimed ?St. Dunstan?s Necessaries?

The gent behind the counter was busy having a chat with an elderly woman. He broke off the discussion to greet the new customer. ?Eh, right. Happy new year, young man. Fog got you turned about??

?Church is brisk walk north round the corner. St. Dunstan?s Hill, St. Dunstan?s Church. Still a bit rough in repair, I?m afraid. You here to see the excavatin???

  • Author: Orbost, Location: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:55 pm

?Er, no....just meeting a friend there actually. What are they excavating for? Bomb damage is it?? The City had suffered in the bombing raids during the war, and signs of the carnage were still evident in many streets.

Was he really meeting someone there? The note had said ?Meet Noon St. Dunstan?s Rear. Ambrogio?, and in the excitement Charlie had leapt to the assumption that the meeting was scheduled for noon today. It occurred to him then that he had no idea when the note was written ? perhaps it was days, weeks or months old. Perhaps the unfortunate gentleman in the park was Ambrogio, and he had not had the opportunity to deliver the note. Don?t dwell on the park, Charlie old boy. He was dead before you found him, nothing you could have done?.well you didn?t need to run away, did you? Charlie found his mind wandering, and realised he had disturbed the shopkeeper and his customer.

?Well, please forgive the interruption, Sir, Madam.? Another tip of his hat and a friendly smile, and he departed St Dunstan?s Necessaries. His grumbling stomach reminded him that he had not even had breakfast today. I?ll find myself a little teashop, have a good cuppa, and maybe a nice bit of bacon to start the day with. And of course, a nice quiet corner table somewhere would give him a chance to read the folder in more detail?.

  • Author: Operator, PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:35 pm

"Couple lads came in earlier. Seems they done found a tomb or something under some damaged paving." The oldster seemed happy to get back to his conversation with the other patron as Charlietook his leave.

Stepping out to the street, Charlie found he could make out the tall spire of St. Dunstan's. The church itself was only a short walk. Even from a distance, one could see a crew gathered at the front of the building. Several bombings had hit the old house hard and the steeple was pretty much the only thing standing proud of the old structure.

Across the street, and a decent distance from the noise of the "excavation" crew, was a sturdy townhouse with a fresh layer of soft rose paint and a sign declaring it "M. de Lys, Guest House and Pastry Shoppe". There were tables set out between the house and the street proper where two or three couples were enjoying breakfast or tea and cakes. A tall matronly woman with greying hair pulled back into a braided coil and a slightly false smile was fluttering from table to table ensuring her guests' satisfaction.

  • Author: Orbost, Location: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2005 4:11 pm

A grin crept across Charlie?s face, and a spring appeared in his step, as he read the sign above the shop. The tables lined up on the pavement reminded him of any number of Parisian bistros and caf鳮 How nice to have a little spot of France in the middle of London, he thought. Certainly the Thames was no Seine, and Marble Arch no Arc de Triomphe, but, he felt, London was improved immensely by a little Gallic influence. And certainly, no nation appreciated le petit dejeuner quite as much as the French.

As he reached the shop, he removed his hat out of courtesy, nodded to the patrons, and took a seat at a pavement table. He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath, as he imagined the aroma of freshly baked croissants, drifting deliciously through the morning air.

?Quel bel 鴡blissement vous avez, Madame?, he called to the waitress, [What a beautiful establishment you have, Madame], and waited for the menu to arrive?.

  • Author: Operator, PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2005 11:53 am

The woman turned at the sound of Charlie's greeting. The slightly strained smile she had been wearing melted into one of honest delight. She took a quick moment to excuse herself from the young couple she had been chatting up.

"Bonjour, Monsieur ,? she replied in French, ?What a delight that you speak French so well!? She quickly ran her eyes from customer to suitcase and then met Charlie?s eyes with an appraising look. ?Do you seek a room, Monsieur? We do have two available for a couple of days. A rarity, as many people seem to have come into town for the holiday. Ah, but first let me see to your immediate needs.?

She clucked at the young man?s slightly rumpled appearance. ?Perhaps something more substantial than a few pastries for you??

  • Author: Orbost, Location: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2005 11:37 pm

?Madame, my French is mediocre at best?? Charlie said with a mock, bashful look on his face (though he was secretly delighted with the compliment), ??I fear that my crude English accent ruins your most beautiful of languages.? The old Hargreaves charm seemed to work on women of all ages, and he seldom missed an opportunity to sweet-talk older ladies.

At the mention of a room, a smile crossed Charlie?s face. ?Is my need for a room so?how do you say?obvious? Madame, I arrived in London only this morning, and have nowhere to stay. I would be delighted to stay with you for a few days. Ah, please excuse me bad manners...?

Charlie stood, removed his hat, offered his hand, and bent low to kiss the back of hers. ?Enchante, Madame. I?m Charlie?.Charlie Hargreaves. A pleasure to meet you.?

?I?m sure you make the finest pastries in London, so perhaps a few of those, and caf頡u lait would do me just fine, merci. And then perhaps after I have eaten you could show me my room, and tell me the rules of the house.? And then, thought Charlie, I can have a few quiet moments to myself to study this file?.

  • Author: Operator, PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:31 pm

Charlie?s charming comment was well-placed as it produced a look of supreme satisfaction, as well as a slight blush to the lady?s cheeks. ?You do flatter me, Monsieur. French is but my second language. Perhaps when you have lived as many years as I you will speak it with the same ease, no??

A light mezzo-soprano laugh escaped her lips at the young man?s reaction to the room question. She looked pointedly at his luggage. ?Not many customers bring their bags with them for a simple meal and a stroll.?

His bow and introduction were well-received. She in fact seemed as if folk were commonly introduced to her in such a manner, so regal was her response. ?Well met, monsieur.? She switched to English to continue. ?I am Muriel... Muriel Layton.?

Just then a lad in his teen years, wearing a white apron, popped up at Charlie?s side. The woman continued as if the timing were intentional. ?And this is Tobias. Tobias, Monsieur Hargreaves will be staying on with us for a few nights. Please see to his needs for breakfast, and when he is done show him to my office. Monsieur Hargreaves, it has been a pleasure. I look forward to showing you around , but I hope you will forgive my departure as there is work waiting for me inside. Adieu.?

Mrs. Layton went by way of several other tables to make sure everyone was attended to before ascending the steps into the house proper. Tobias, meanwhile disappeared without saying anything else. He returned in a flash with a serving tray laden with all that Charlie had requested . ?There you are, Mister Hargreaves, sir. Anythin? else I can bring for you? Shall I take your things in for you??

  • Author: Orbost, Location: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2005 11:07 pm

Charlie retook his seat and stretched out his legs underneath the table. The arrival of Tobias with his breakfast was bewilderingly quick, and Charlie had barely had time to light the cigarette that had appeared between his fingers while he waited. He carefully tucked the rolled-up fag into his front jacket pocket for after breakfast.

He swept his hair back behind his ears with one hand, and reached into his pocket for a coin as the young boy placed the food on the table. Leaning forward, he tapped the coin on the table twice to get the boy?s attention, and then slipped it into Tobias? pocket with a friendly wink.

?Wonderful service young man, you do Madame Layton proud,? he said, a look of wry amusement on his face. ?Now, none of this ?sir? business?my name?s Charlie, and that?s what you?re to call me, right??

Charlie nudged his suitcase out from under the table with his foot. There was nothing of great value in there, and the precious folder was tucked inside his jacket. ?Thanks Tobes, just chuck it on the bedroom floor somewhere would you.?

His university years had ingrained in him a natural inclination to give people nicknames, and provided it was used with an appropriate dollop of good humour, the recipient generally took to their new name with ease (at least, his good friends Tugger, Shorty, Wicksy and Bertie had). For some reason he had always remained just ?Charlie? to his friends ? his given name of Charles was used exclusively by his father when the old man was trying to make some point or other about his lack of adult responsibility.

He caught himself before his reminiscences overtook the more important matters. Once Tobias had left to serve other patrons, he took out the manila folder and placed it in front of him. A quick glance over the shoulder satisfied him that no-one was near enough to see, and he started to read the contents more carefully. He kept one hand on the corner of the front cover, ready to close the folder immediately should Tobias, Muriel or anyone else venture too close. He started with the very first document, and read through line by line, trying to piece together the significance of the file, searching for clues that might tell him who the file belonged to, or when it might have been written?.

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