Harold lowered his gun and turned to walk back into the kitchen. I put out my hand and held it across his chest to stop him.
“It had to be done lad. Your father had his suspicions about Digby. He told me to protect you at all times and not trust your brother. He was just one bad apple in the family barrel Cathcart. And before you swallow any of those insinuations Digby trotted out, think again” he said taking hold of my hand firmly and removing it from his chest.
I was speechless and numb. I stood for a few moments before walking up to my brothers corpse. His faced looked contorted and ill at rest. I closed his eyelids and straightened his body out. I could not comprehend Digby’s involvement in this whole strange affair.
The farmyard was still and quiet. I suspected the sound of gunfire would raise interest from neighboring properties or even the town. Templeton approached me as I stood over Digby’s body.
“Cathcart. I am fully aware this is not a fight you ever wished to get involved in. You have been a victim of circumstance and a captive to events” he said in a measured tone.
“What happens next Templeton? How many more are there coming for us? When will it end?” I replied irritated now.
“These are questions to which I have no precise answers. We carry on until the fight is won. This organisation is very powerful, has many friends in high places and is extremely wealthy. Opium is increasingly becoming a scourge to our society. It preys on the curious, the poor and the desperate. While there is money to be made from its sale and distribution, they will continue to supply it. That is why we must act to defeat them.
I guess we will have a few hours breathing space to regroup and formulate a strategy. We must go on the offensive now. We must stop running and fight back. Dalgleish is gone and several others in the gang are dead. We must return to London. The drugs are coming into East India Docks and being distributed from the warehouse above the private members club.
First though, we burn the corpses and clear up after ourselves”.
I nodded and along with Templeton, dragged my dead brother to lay next to the other bodies. Hetty returned from a barn with some paraffin. She poured it over the corpses before lighting a match.
Digby’s fuel soaked waistcoat immediately burst into flames which leaped from his corpse to the adjoining bodies. I stepped back quickly to avoid the fumes and flames. Harold dragged out a bale of straw which he tore into and sprinkled over the bodies. The heat intensified and the smell of burning flesh clung in the farmyard air. We stood quietly watching the funeral pyre rage. The bodies twitched and shifted in the heat. I went back into the farmhouse.
Suddenly I heard a shout and then….