Cathcart the Intrepid Part 14 by John Linney

‘Quick in here!’ Uncle Harold said as he forced me off and ran towards an open doorway in the warehouse. I turned briefly to see Lee Ho, Cobain and two other oriental gentlemen were running with guns in hand. As I  jumped through the doorway, bullets pinged against the warehouse door. Thankfully the pursuants determination was not matched by their accuracy of shot. Templeton led myself and Harold through the warehouse to the rear of the building. He reached into a small crevice in the brickwork and fumbled. Suddenly a trapdoor opened in front of us with a steep staircase leading into a gloomy underworld.
‘Follow me, I will light a lamp at the bottom of the staircase’ Templeton said.
We descended into the darkness as the trapdoor closed behind us. A hurricane lamp flickered into life casting yellow shafts of light into what looked like a vaulted cellar. There were wine barrels stacked neatly along the far wall as far as I could make out. Evidently the warehouse owners were keen to not divulge its contents to the customs men. Templeton lit several lamps to further illuminate the full extent of the cellar space. There was a very large wooden table in the middle of the floor with a map spread out over much of the table top. On closer inspection it showed Bengal and the port of Calcutta. The synapses started to fire. Mr Desai the merchant. My original destination. This was all too much of a coincidence.
‘I should imagine there is a lot of money in your little store down here Templeton. On the side venture is it?’ goading Templeton into a reply.
‘This store is owned by Nappers of London. Some of these sherry casks have been here since the Crimea. Nappers happens to be part owned by your father Cathcart. He did not make his millions by weaving wool oh no. His first job for the company was uncovering a financial scam run out of the Iberian peninsula. He did very well out that little operation’ Templeton replied.
‘Do you mean he has worked for the secret service as well? Is nothing as it seems?’ I said.
‘There’s money in textiles but not as much your parents have spent over the years. There’s much you don’t know about Arthur’ Uncle Harold replied.
‘The opium is coming through the Indian subcontinent and we have tracked it down to an export company in the port of Calcutta. Mr Desai, our contact, has been keeping tabs on the operation for some time but needed reinforcements to arrest the gang. They are tricky customers this lot. You have met Messrs Cobain and his lycanthropic colleague Dalglish. They work with Mr..’
Suddenly the trapdoor was peppered with what sounded like gunfire. I retreated to the shadows instinctively with Harold following rapidly. Templeton gestured to us intently.
We fled along the cellar plunging into darkness again. I could hear the trapdoors crash open and then…