Book · Kidnapping · Spring

Harriet is free

Me: You did it! She is free!

Nell: When she came running along the beach towards me my heart stopped. It was wonderful. My darling Harriet. Where is she now?

Me: She’s with Dave and the others in the kitchen. She is quite safe. She has a soft blanket and Dave to cuddle. You sit down and I’ll get you some tea. You look exhausted.

Nell: I am, but a cup of Earl Grey and one of Poppy’s scones will soon sort me out.

Me: Poppy says she will bring a tray in. She is just making Harriet some warm milk. Dave drank the first bowl by mistake.

Nell: It’s been a long week. Is Charlie still here?

Me: He and the head Doberman have a few things to sort out. He said he will be in touch.

Nell: Yes. John is a charming Doberman. Very polite and softly spoken.

Me: Are you able to tell me what happened?

Nell: I hardly know how to put it into words. The shock. The awful shock when he came towards me with Harriet.

Me: Start at the beginning.

Nell: James dropped me off and I walked down to the beach. I could make out some figures at the other end and so I started walking towards them. The sea mist was quite thick so I couldn’t see them properly. I was holding the cufflink as agreed.

Me: You must have been terrified.

Nell: I was. As I drew nearer I saw Harriet. She had a rope around her neck and he was holding it in his teeth.

Me: Who?

Nell: Richard Price! It was Richard Price!

Me: No!

Nell: He was surrounded by hissing cats. I could hardly breathe but I kept on walking.

Me: So brave.

Nell: Suddenly there was the sound of barking and Charlie leapt out of the sea followed by a whole army of Dobermans. They had been hiding behind the rocks.

Me: Good for Charlie!

Nell: The cats fled when they saw the Dobermans and Richard Price dropped the rope. That’s when Harriet broke free and ran towards me.

Me: Oh my goodness. Did he chase her?

Nell: No. He didn’t get the chance. Charlie pinned him to the ground and the Dobermans formed a circle around them. Richard Price wasn’t going anywhere.

Me: The villain!

Nell: Yes, Charlie tied him up and he and the Dobermans took him away. Harriet and I just clung to each other.

Me: I bet you did.

Nell: We were watching them go when there was a triumphant bark behind us and David came rushing over the sand dunes wearing his hat.

Me: Bless him.

Nell: Closely followed by Poppy with her sword.

Me: Of course.

Nell: And Mutley in his DJ carrying a picnic basket. It was a wonderful sight. Harriet burst into tears and so did I. David knocked her over with kisses as usual but she didn’t care.

Me: What a relief.

Nell: Fortunately Poppy had a flask of sweet tea in the basket and the birthday cake she made yesterday. Harriet wolfed it all down with David’s help. The poor little thing was starving.

Me: I bet she was.

Nell: I could only manage some tea. Mutley fortified mine with a little brandy and drank his straight from the bottle.

Me: I’m not surprised.

Nell: We all just sat on the beach together looking at the sun over the sea and holding Harriet close. A special moment.

Me: I can imagine.

Nell: But what were they all doing there? I told them not to come.

Me: We were never going to let you go alone, Nell. Charlie told us what to do.

Nell: You just don’t listen, do you?

Me: Not this time and No, I’m not sorry.

Book · Kidnapping · Spring

Come alone

Nell: Charlie says I am to expect a phone call. Things are starting to move and he thinks they will be in touch.

Me: I am dreadfully worried about this, Nell. Are you sure we shouldn’t tell the police?

Nell: No police.

Me: Oh my goodness, Nell. Your phone is ringing.

Nell: Give it to me. “Yes. Nell speaking. I want to talk to Harriet first. No, I need to talk to her.”

Me: Is it them?

Nell: Yes. They are getting her.

Me: I can’t bear this.

Nell: Quiet! “Harriet, it’s me, Auntie Nell. Are you ok? We are going to get you out of there. We promise. We love you too. Yes. Of course you can. Anything you want. I will. He’s fine it was just a black eye. Who? Yes. Be brave. Not long now. Harriet!”

Me: What happened?

Nell: She’s gone.

Me: What did she say? Is she ok?

Nell: Hush! It’s them again. “Yes. I’m still here. Where? What time? Completely alone? Yes. Ok. I will be there.”

Me: Tell me.

Nell: Harriet sounded tired but determined. She says she is ok and asked if she can still have a birthday cake when she comes home. Bless her. She sends her love to us all. She says to tell David she is thinking of him all the time and they will celebrate their birthday together. She was worried about Mutley and sent special love to Jim. Who on earth is Jim?

Me: The floppy haired farm dog. He tried to save her. Remember?

Nell: Oh yes.

Me: What did they say?

Nell: They told me to meet them on Bantham beach at 5am tomorrow. I have to bring the cufflink and I must be alone. They will bring Harriet. I am to walk towards them along the beach.

Me: You can’t go alone, Nell.

Nell: I can and I will. James can drop me at the car park and wait for me there.

Me: But Nell…

Nell: I am bringing Harriet home tomorrow and I am going alone. No arguments. It’s something I have to do.

Me: Ok. Sorry.

Book · Kidnapping · Spring

Charlie explains

Me: Has Charlie gone?

Nell: Yes, for now.

Me: Dave was so pleased to see him and he seems to have calmed down.

Nell: Yes. Charlie promised him that his sister will be home soon. Now, you are going to have to sit down. I know what you are like, so take a deep breath and don’t fuss, just listen.

Me: Does he know where Harriet is?

Nell: No, he doesn’t but he is sure she is nearby and we will find her soon.

Me: How can he know that?

Nell: Charlie is not a journalist. He works for the British Secret Service.

Me: Do you mean MI5? Is Charlie a spy?

Nell: Yes. Apparently it all started at the Royal Wedding. A Russian double agent was supposed to exchange classified material. The exchange went wrong and he ended up putting it in my handbag.

Me: A Russian double agent? Your handbag?

Nell: Yes. Strange little man. I remember him now. I dropped my handbag and he picked it up.

Me: It’s the cufflink!

Nell: Yes. He managed to get a message to MI5 telling them what he had done and describing me and the handbag. They checked the security camera footage of the wedding and tracked me down.

Me: What happened then?

Nell: Charlie was sent in to get it.

Me: Why didn’t he take it? He had plenty of opportunities when he was pretending to be Siegfried.

Nell: While he was here he received information that there was a Mole in MI5 so he decided to leave the cufflink with me to see if the Mole would try and get it.

Me: We are talking double agents now aren’t we? Informants, not animals?

Nell: Good grief!

Me: And that’s why you still have the cufflink? I don’t want it here. Get rid of it.

Nell: No. It has forced them to show their hand. The cufflink contains a list of double agents. It will lead Charlie to the Mole.

Me: But what about Harriet? It’s terrible that she is being used in all this.

Nell: I know. Charlie apologised. He and the Dobermans were monitoring us but they hadn’t counted on the cats moving so quickly.

Me: So the Dobermans are part of MI5?

Nell: Yes, Charlie wasn’t sure at first if one of the Dobermans was the Mole which is why he warned me to keep away from them.

Me: And the Cat?

Nell: The Cat is innocent. It tried to warn us.

Me: Does he have an idea who the Mole is?

Nell: I think he does. He has asked me to trust him and wait for them to get in touch. He has promised me that we will get Harriet back very soon. I don’t know why, but I believe him.

Me: So all we can do is wait?

Nell: Yes. He needs to unmask the Mole and Harriet is the key.

Me: So Charlie is like James Bond? Ruthless but charming. Breaking hearts and risking innocent lives.

Nell: James Bond is a fictional character, Miss Moneypenny. We are close to rescuing Harriet. Focus on that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Book · Kidnapping · Spring

Tell nobody

Me: Nell, what is it?

Nell: They’ve just sent me a photo of Harriet. It’s heartbreaking. They must have my number. How did they get it? My poor little Harriet. She must be so afraid and it is her birthday today.

Me: This is dreadful but at least we know she is alive. Was there a message?

Nell: No. Just the photo. I better show the police I suppose. I don’t want David to see it. He hasn’t stopped crying since Harriet was taken.

Me: Wait. Nell, your phone is ringing!

Nell: No Caller ID. It might be them. “Yes. This is Nell. Where is she? What do you want? But I don’t have anything. Yes, I will. Please don’t hurt Harriet!”

Me: What did they say?

Nell: They said: “You have something of ours and now we have something of yours. Await further instructions. Tell nobody.”

Me: What do they mean? What do we have?

Nell: I don’t know. What could they want from us? We don’t have any money but we can raise some if we have to. They said we have something of theirs. What can it be?

Me: Should we tell the police?

Nell: Too risky. We are going to have to do this alone.

Me: Nell, your phone is ringing again!

Nell: “Yes, it’s Nell. Where are you? They’ve taken Harriet. You knew? Alright. I’ll see you then.”

Me: Who was that?

Nell: It was Charlie. He knew about Harriet. He wants to see me. He’s coming over now.

Me: Oh my goodness. What if he is dangerous?

Nell: We have to get Harriet back. Charlie knows something and I am going to find out what it is.

Me: Be careful.

Nell: Ask Poppy and Mutley to join me. They need to know Charlie is on his way. David can stay watching the football and you must keep an eye on him. Tell Poppy to bring her sword.

Me: I’m not sure that’s wise.

Nell: We have gone beyond wise. Just look at that photo.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Book · Kidnapping · Spring

Waiting for news

Me: Tell me again what happened.

Nell: I’ve been through it so many times now. With the police. With Richard Price on the phone. He didn’t have to come straight over, by the way.

Me: He was worried, Nell, and he brought you flowers.

Nell: What good are flowers when Harriet is still missing? I know he means well but I can’t see anyone at the moment. Did you explain?

Me: Yes. He understood. He said contact him any time if you need him.

Nell: I will.

Me: Let’s go through it again in case we’ve missed a vital clue.

Nell: David and Harriet were playing badminton over the fence with the farm dogs when a huge gang of cats appeared and leapt on Harriet. David rushed at them but there were too many. They were crawling all over him, biting and scratching.

Me: Poor Dave is in a bad way. He can’t forgive himself for not stopping them.

Nell: He was overpowered. The farm dogs jumped over the fence and tried to help but the cats’ claws were sharp and there were so many of them. That young farm dog with the floppy hair was hurt in the process.

Me: His name is Jim. He called round this morning asking for news. He was very upset. How did they capture Harriet?

Nell: The cats had a rope and a sack. Some of them held her down while the others tied her up and pushed her into the sack.

Me: And Mutley?

Nell: Mutley has a black eye. He fell out of the hammock when he heard the noise and rushed straight in to the fight with no thought for his own safety. He did some damage from what I hear.

Me: He’s such a brave old boy.

Nell: By the time Poppy and I realised what was happening Harriet had gone.

Me: Dave is distraught, Nell. He won’t stop crying. I don’t know how to comfort him.

Nell: It’s the puppies’ birthday tomorrow. They will be a year old. I was planning a party. It’s too much thinking of Harriet out there alone. She will be so frightened.

Me: She is stronger than we think. We will have a huge party when she comes home.

Nell: Yes. We have to think positively.

Me: Did you notice the Doberman?

Nell: Yes. It appears to be guarding our gate. I never thought I would say this, but it’s strangely comforting.

Me: I agree. We will find Harriet soon. There are so many people looking for her. Everyone is pulling together.

Nell: Yes. I just wish I knew why she has been taken.

Me: Have you heard anything from Charlie? Dave keeps asking for him.

Nell: Nothing since that phone call. It’s strange because I thought I saw him in the field.

Me: Surely he would tell you if he was here.

Nell: Yes. I was probably mistaken. We will just have to wait and hope the kidnappers get in touch. Stop crying. You are not helping. Harriet is a labrador and labradors don’t give in.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Book · Kidnapping · Spring

Just another Sunday?

Me: It was nice of the Cat to call round this morning.

Nell: I suppose so. Although I was in the middle of breakfast and I like to read the Sunday papers in peace.

Me: The Cat wasn’t to know.

Nell: I don’t know why it thinks I would care whether there are new cats in the area.

Me: It seemed agitated.

Nell: I know. Cats are funny creatures. It kept telling me to watch my back.

Me: I think it was angling for a cup of tea.

Nell: It was angling for my scrambled egg and smoked salmon.

Me: Where is everyone?

Nell: Dave and Harriet are out in the garden playing badminton with the farm dogs. Poppy is cooking a roast and Mutley is asleep in the sun. He does like a snooze in the hammock.

Me: Sounds like the perfect Sunday to me.

Nell: Except for those Dobermans on the hill.

Me: They are probably just out for a walk.

Nell: I saw one of them at the farm shop yesterday buying clotted cream. It waved at me.

Me: It was just being friendly.

Nell: You know they wanted Poppy’s family recipe for scones. The cheek of it. They asked her when she went to Starbarks for her regular Americano.

Me: I hope she refused.

Nell: Of course. Wait. What was that?

Me: I can hear barking. A lot of barking. Are Dave and Harriet arguing with the farm dogs again? Why is Poppy running?

Nell: Those are frightened barks and I can hear hissing and screaming. The puppies are in trouble. They need me now.

Me: Wait! Nell, be careful. I’m coming! Oh no! Let me help you. What’s happened? Why are you looking like that?

Nell: It’s too late. They have taken her.

Me: What?

Nell: Call the police. There have been injuries. Harriet has been kidnapped.

Me: No. Not little Harriet.

Nell: Stop wailing and call them now. There is no time to waste.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Book · Kidnapping

Keep it safe

Nell: Well, this is all extremely confusing.

Me: Tell me what Dave said.

Nell: David got a phone call from Charlie during the party.

Me: How did he have his number?

Nell: They have been chatting quite a lot recently about motorbikes and football. David likes Charlie so much more now he isn’t Siegfried.

Me: I must say that Spain against Portugal match was a bit of a corker.

Nell: A bit of a corker? Do speak English. Yes, it was rather exciting. Ronald took centre stage as usual.

Me: Ronaldo.

Nell: Anyway, do you want to know what Charlie said, or not?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Charlie told David to take my handbag and only return it after the party.

Me: Why?

Nell: I have no idea but that’s why I’ve only just got it back.

Me: How odd? I mean Dave is always stealing your handbag. Maybe it was a joke. You need to give it a clean out though, Nell. It’s ever so full.

Nell: I do. No time like the present I suppose.

Me: Yes. Does everyone still think the farm dogs spiked the drink?

Nell: Yes. Wretched animals drank it too, of course. They have no sense. What on earth is this at the bottom of my bag?

Me: What? Show me.

Nell: I’ve never seen it before.

Me: It’s a man’s cufflink. It’s like a little clock. The time is wrong though. It’s two hours ahead.

Nell: That’s not the point. Where does it come from?

Me: I have no idea.

Nell: Ah! It has to be his. I’m going to call him right now.

Me: Who? Richard Price?

Nell: No. Richard Price wouldn’t wear flashy cufflinks. He is far too sensible. Charlie, of course. Quiet, it’s ringing. He is answering. I’ll take it outside.

Me: Nell, don’t walk away. What is he saying? Come back. I hate waiting.

Nell: So, I was right. It is Charlie’s. He said he is very sorry it is in my handbag, but I am to keep it safe as it is extremely precious to him and then he was gone.

Me: Curiouser and curiouser.

Nell: Alright Alice, you are not in Wonderland now. Let’s watch Saturday Kitchen. All this intrigue is exhausting. It’s only a cufflink. Can you ask Mutley to take that ridiculous moustache off, please? He is not Hercule Poirot.

Me: Yes. We thought it was funny. Sorry.