Cathcart the Intrepid part 10 by John Linney

Digby was staring at me.
‘What on earth are you doing here Cathcart? I thought daddy was sending you abroad. Surely you should be heading to Southampton to get the ship to India?’
‘More importantly what are you doing here? didn’t have you down as working for a living especially not in commerce’ I replied
‘I am invited to a special club. I met my friend in Heckmondwike at the Sidebottom’s. He was up from London spending time with his Aunt Violet. Crispin is such a nice, kind friend. We share many interests. He is very big in the Foreign Office’ Digby said turning glossy eyed.
A tall well set man with an immaculate sense of dress walked briskly over to Digby and I.
‘Is he bothering you Dig? I can get a constable to move him on’ the gentleman said.
‘Crispin this is my brother Cathcart. He is going to work in India for father’ Digby said. I am glad that he did not ask me as I would absolutely refused to do so’ he added.
‘Delighted to meet you Cathcart. Your darling brother has told me much of you. We are going to the Oriental tonight. You would be most welcome to join us. I would politely suggest however that you dress more appropriately. The Wetherton is a very select club if you understand me’ Crispin said looking me up and down intently.
‘You referred to the Oriental. Is that another club?’ I said casually
‘No the Wetherton has a rather exotic clientèle from the East. It is in dockland as many of the far eastern members have business interests around here. It is known in social circles as the Oriental. You will have a very pleasant evening I assure you. Where are you staying?
I panicked. The plan would have to change rapidly. I needed to contact Templeton before tonight.
‘I am staying at the Northern Exiles in Aldwych. You give me the club address and I will meet you there instead’ I hastily replied.
‘If you insist. Here is the clubs address. When you arrive, mention you are a friend of Crispin Osborne. Till tonight Cathcart!’
‘What a pleasure Cathcart. We will have such fun. Its a fabulous evenings entertainment’ Digby added smiling and winking at the same time.
I hurried back to the warehouse and knocked on the door till Templeton opened up.
‘Why are you here Travers? Have you forgotten something or lost your bottle?’
‘Neither. I ran into my brother Digby and his friend Crispin Osborne . Osborne is a member at the Wetherton and he insisted I accompany them tonight’ I replied
‘Right, I will lend you some clothes. I will be 40 minutes tops’ Templeton said.
He left hurriedly. He returned as promised and I changed.
I left and made my way to Blackwater mews.
The club was unassuming on first glance. I knocked on the door. A large bald oriental man opened the door and then

Cathcart the Intrepid pt9 by John Linney

I was holed up in the warehouse for what felt like weeks. I grew accustomed to the smells of imported spices and tea. The temperature dropped markedly over the days that followed and I sheltered in the office near the only fireplace in the building. Snow began to fall steadily on the fourth day of my incarceration, leaving a clean white carpet over the warehouse courtyard and surrounding buildings. Templeton was relentless in his teaching, constantly going over the plan of the operation. I would present myself at the mission under the name of seaman Herbert Grant. The mission acted as a front to the opium import business, using homeless ex sailors as couriers and messengers. Templeton’s intelligence suggested that the drugs were distributed through a gentleman’s club in Holborn but the mission sent out invites via these destitute sailors.
I was conscious that this would be my first and possibly last Christmas not at Travers Nook. I would miss the parties and lavish dining. I longed to hear carol singers and smell plum pudding and mince pies. I yearned for those things that felt familiar, whilst knowing the discomfort and danger to which I was entering.
The day arrived. I dressed in some old clothes that although grubby, were in fact warm and well fitting. My dishevelled looks could have fooled any close relative or friend. I opened the door inside the gate of the warehouse. As I stepped out into the cold crisp snow, Templeton grabbed my arm and spun me to face him.
‘Travers, you know the plan. Stick to it and no heroics. Meet me at the Wetherton Club on the 23rd at 11pm. Don’t let your country down Travers!’
‘I hope that my country appreciates what I am doing. I understand that drugs attract the wrong sort but am frankly struggling as to why the drug takers are so important’ I answered.
‘These men represent so many of the upper echelons of society and make decisions that affect all of us. We cannot allow their judgements to be clouded by narcotics and corruption. We have suffered under those whose minds are addled by drink in the past as well as those bribed by the criminal underclass’ Templeton said.
‘Do your job and don’t let me down’ he added.
I turned away and trudged off through the snow towards the dockside. As I neared the river, I could see several large vessels moored by the docks. Men scuttled on and off  vessels whilst cranes lifted boxes and containers off ships to waiting carts. I wandered through the hustle, side stepping. I could hear the sound of carol singing coming from an alleyway.
A small uniformed group sang heartily. I stopped to admire the rendition of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman’ when I noticed a small sharp eyed man watching me intently. Retiring quickly to the dockside I turned to see if I was being followed. Suddenly I felt a firm hand on my shoulder and then

Cathcart pt 8 by Angela Ballschmiede

Fosdyke looked at me, frowning. “Excuse me for asking Sir, but what did your father say to you and what was in the telegram from W.C?”
“My father told me he has set me up with a Commission in the Indian Police Service based in Calcutta. I am ‘overseeing’ a business deal with a Mr. Sunil Desai. The telegram on the other hand said to report to Templeton.”
“Ah”, said Fosdyke with a restrained smile, “Now l understand”.
What the bally did he understand? He refused to say more until we reached our destination at East India Dock.
The carriage pulled up in front of the doorway to a Fruit Import/Export co, which Fosdyke then proceeded to open. What was going on now?
As we entered the premises, I noticed that Fosdyke was smirking as he closed the doors behind us.
“Soooooooooo”, he said laughing, “l will proceed with the instructions. The commission was bought as a cover. You sir are not going to Calcutta India but to Calcutta the opium den!”
I could have been hit with a soggy kipper! What was he blathering on about?

Original entrance to the East India Docks.
East India Dock

Fosdyke continued. “You see Sir, l am not Fosdyke, l am in fact Templeton. Our problem is somewhere here in the docks and we have to find HIM, the ONE”;(it seemed like Fosdyke/Templeton liked to talk in capitals)! He continued. “You Sir, and l will hole up here in the office for a few days, during which time we will not shave or wash “
l cut in quick, “But l bathe every day Fosd- er Templeton”.
“Not for the next few days l am afraid old chap. You have to look and smell the part, not just play it. You will be a disgruntled, drunken and miserable ex sailor, formerly of HMS Calcutta. You will be our way in to get our hands on the slime who continues to infiltrate the empire with their terrible opium. It seems as though its infiltration has even reached ‘higher’ society, if you understand me sir “.
I thought I understood him. By gad, that would explain a lot of unusual behaviour in society circles in recent months. Many prominent figures had taken to acting in a most mysterious manner with unexpected consequences. I pondered the enormity for a few moments.Had the drugs trade influenced decision making even in the higher echelons of government? Fosdyke/Templeton noticed that the penny had dropped and then

Cathcart Part 7 by John Linney

The driver spoke again. “Do not try anything sir”.The carriage made its way through Kentish Town into Tufnell Park. I was staggered at the events of today. Normal life carried on outside with trades busy at work. I sat watching out of the window at street after street of terraced houses leading into larger leafy roads with grand town houses set back from the traffic. The cab driver spoke in a measured fashion. ” I have instructions to take you to a residence in north London sir. I suggest you keep calm and do not attempt to extricate yourself from the carriage. Your assistant Fosdyke is being most cooperative”. He spoke in a foreign  accent, possibly oriental but hard to discern.
“Are you harmed Fosdyke?” I said loudly, leaning out of the window straining to see the driver and my companion.
“I am fine sir. No injuries save my pride. I do suggest that you keep away from the window and do as the driver instructs. I would hate to see anyone get hurt, as would indeed our captor” Fosdyke replied in a steady almost instructional manner. I instinctively moved away from the window. Suddenly there was a thump followed by an arm and shoulder being pressed against the carriage window. The driver slid lifeless past the window, bounced off the the step and slumped onto the road behind.
“Are you OK sir “? Fosdyke said hurriedly. “I will turn the carriage around as I believe we have an appointment in East London rather than wherever he was taking us. I do however fear our non attendance will not go unnoticed” he said.
“Jolly well done Fosdyke. Seems like you’re the kind of man one needs in a tight spot. Best make haste, tout suite “, I answered leaning back in the carriage letting my head sink in to the headrest. The carriage had a strange odour within almost like a perfume but very subtle. I had not been able to determine any distinguishing features of our driver and Fosdyke offered none in conversation. The carriage sped south easterly onto Farringdon Rd and down towards the City. The buildings loomed in around us as we moved closer to the river. Fosdyke drove the carriage further east towards dockland. The carriage turned at a road junction and Fosdyke pulled the carriage to the side of the road. Fosdyke jumped down and got into the carriage next to me. He opened a hip flask, passing it to me. I took a long draught of the whisky (an Islay malt I guessed). He took off his gloves, put them into his bowler hat and then

Cathcart the Intrepid pt 6 by Angela Ballschmiede

“Damn it man,” l snorted at Fosdyke, who continued to calmly but deliberately brush the dust and dirt off my attire.”What the bally doodles were you thinking of Fosdyke? A rugby tackle on the Euston Road! Did you not see my intention? Wibble was over there”, and l pointed, “I could have nabbed him!”
“Sorry sir, “Fosdyke replied calmly, albeit the dusting was getting heftier, “but my instructions were to not let you UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES interfere with Wibble. As you now know, he did not die at your parent’s residence; they merely subdued him with a narcotic, but by jove l wonder how the devil he was down here so quick, hhhm, as per instructions. Come sir, we will sit a while in this street cafe and l can elaborate on the telegram you received from W.C”
We sat silently in the cafe, sipped our Turkish coffee, strong and sweet. Eventually Fosdyke spoke.
“You see Sir, it is like this. Wibble is not OUR man, he is only one and we can use him to get the rest. Their group works like a pyramid. We need to find out who the ONE is, and we cannot do that if we eliminate the plebs ,we are keeping an eye on them all Sir, as they are with us, which is why l rugby tackled you Sir, awfully sorry about the slam, but was the only way to give you a soft landing Sir. ”
I waved the apology to one side, “enough said old chap, about the tackle, but about the group and pyramid, awful sorry but you lost me in the labyrinth there ! Haven’t got a tinklers what you are talking about!, and now the case is gone l do believe l haven´t a bally clue where to get new instructions “
Fosdyke grinned, with a twinkle in his eye. “But l do Sir “, rose from the chair flipped a few coins on the tabletop and took me by the elbow. “Follow me Sir ” he said, and strode out to the pavement where coaches were waiting for customers. He selected a coach after peering at the interiors and beckoned me over.
“Here we go Sir, inside with you “. Under gentle protest l sat in the coach.
Where was l going to? Who was Fosdyke really? And what did Wibble know about my father?
The coach set off in a northerly direction, so obviously we were not on our way to Egerton. We left the station behind us and through the side window l caught a view of St. Pauls, and then l pondered where was Fosdyke?
“Alright Sir, “said a chilling voice (which admittedly shocked me into a little mishap in the trouser l’m afraid), “I am up here with the driver sir” said Fosdyke through the panel which connected driver and passenger.”He is one of “and then

Cathcart the Intrepid Part 5 by Sally Nicoll. Author of The Power Behind the Throne. Available now at Amazon

The bomb inside the case had been intended to murder everyone inside St Pancras station. Fortunately, the detonators had been incorrectly configured. Cathcart, no stranger to explosive devices, recognised the danger and took control of the situation.
“Porter!” he bellowed. “Kindly dispose of this for me.” He slid a silver coin into the hand of the man in uniform, deposited the briefcase gently on the floor, and strolled calmly towards the Euston Road. Fosdyke trailed in his wake. The pair walked in silence for fully five minutes.
Cathcart processed his near-death experience. Had the bomb been meant for him? Were his entrails even now supposed to be scattered across St Pancras? He cleared his throat in a futile attempt to dislodge the taste of soured kipper. Then turning on his heel, he said to Fosdyke, “You have no reason to trust me. But trust me you must.”
” Goes without saying, Captain. You are, after all, the hero of Bridlington.”
“Another mission. Another time.” Cathcart made sure he gave nothing away, but he was delighted to discover his exploits in averting the Yorkshire Massacre had not gone unnoticed. “Now, Fosdyke,” he continued. “What I am going to say might seem strange. But believe me, there are people who wish to prevent our new adventure before even it begins.”
Fosdyke fingered his luxurious moustache. He was listening intently.
“We need to take refuge as soon as possible,” Cathcart said. “Fortunately, I know of a safe house. Less of a house actually, than it is–” Cathcart hesitated. “How can I put it? Fosdyke, we must seek refuge at the Egerton Stage School. Indeed, we may be obliged to stay there for some considerable time.”
Fosdyke had stopped walking. “Captain, you see that man over there.” He pointed. “Isn’t he…”
Cathcart’s bowels turned to water. Impossible. Wibble was dead. Hadn’t he seen the butler keel over and expire? And frankly, good riddance. Yet there he stood, less than ten yards away. Large as life and snotty-nosed, as always.
But this time, there was something strangely different about Wibble.
The pistol that dangled casually in his right hand.
The pistol he raised slowly and methodically until it was level with Cathcart’s head.
“You bounder!” Cathcart launched himself directly into Wibble’s line of fire.
And then….

Cathcart the Intrepid part 4 by John Linney

I found a note neatly folded with ‘ Attn C. Travers Esq.’ handwritten on it. I began reading.
‘Travers, so you followed your mother’s advice. She always was a fine upstanding servant to king and country. Your father has obtained for you an officers commission in the Indian Police Service. You will be stationed in Calcutta, working in the central district. Sgt. Fosdyke will be your liaison. He is also an experienced secret service operative. He is currently in the buffet car, no doubt already onto his third pork pie. In the drawer you will see a key with a metal tag for a locker at St Pancras station. It contains all necessary papers, equipment and tickets for your passage to India. Travers, the future of Anglo/Indian relations may depend on you. 
I sat back in the leather desk chair. What does mama know that papa does not? Why am I really going to India and for how long? Am I yet again just a pawn in a much larger game? I tucked the letter in my pocket and left the compartment. I wandered in a dreamlike state along the corridors till I arrived in the buffet car. It was possibly half full. I scanned the passengers looking for Sgt. Fosdyke. I felt a sharp tap on my shoulder.
“Capt Travers I presume sir? Arnold Fosdyke at your service sir”. I turned round.
Fosdyke was a tall, well built man with a lavish handlebar moustache and a ruddy complexion. He was wearing a dark tweed suit with stout brogue boots. Cathcart guessed him to be in his early fifties but very fit for his age.
I smiled at him, shaking him firmly by the hand.
“It is indeed. I trust the pork pies were to your satisfaction sergeant. I must admit to be rather in somewhat of a daze due to this morning’s activity. I awoke with a cheery if not definite idea of the day ahead. Within an hour I have been posted to India, seen our butler die and find myself on the London train to collect secret instructions. Forgive me if I seem a little startled. Frankly a walk out to the Craven Heifer and a few jars was my initial expectations for today but ho hum. You presumably are fully briefed as to our ‘mission’ because I have no idea why my presence is required in Calcutta. When for goodness sake did cloth make or break an Empire?
“All these questions sir. Well sir I know I am to accompany you and assist in any way I can. Other than that sir I await instructions as do you sir” Fosdyke replied in a cheery matter of fact manner.
Sgt Fosdyke

The train thundered on through ever gentler countryside into the heart of the capital city. On arrival, we headed straight for the locker next to the left luggage. I opened the door of the locker & removed a leather case. I eagerly opened it and then 

Cathcart the Intrepid part 3 by Emily Bennett

Travers Nook 

I decided to lie. That way I thought I would let no one down.”Mama, Papa” I said looking towards their ever expectant faces. “I have been offered a place at the Egerton Stage School for the next four years!!!””Son” my mother began to say, when suddenly there was an almighty crash. Wibble had fainted and was appearing to have a seizure. We all turned to watch his twitching corpse slowly become still and cease all signs of life.
“Son” mother began again whilst throwing a sheet over Wibble’s now lifeless body, “you must go”.With that I got up, ran upstairs and packed my small case, ran back downstairs, out of the door and up the driveway. It was only then that I remembered I have a horse, so turning swiftly I ran back to the house, through the kitchen to the stables. I jumped on my horse and galloped to the railway station.

In a plume of grey white smoke, the London train pulled in. I dismounted and jumped aboard the train. I reached into my inside pocket and removed my letter from the government. The guard came up the corridor asking for tickets, only I did not need one. I had my letter. I showed it to the guard who responded immediately.”Yes sir, please follow me” he said. I got up and followed him through the first class carriage into an office. This was not just any office mind. It was my office, given to me by the government after my last secret mission. I sat down, unlocked the top drawer and then..

Cathcart the Intrepid part 2 by Gary Linley

With his usual pompous entrance, Wibble the Butler appeared with an air of high importance. “Not one, but two items of post for Cathcart the younger this fine morning” he crowed. “Take your time now absorbing the detail, Master C, we don’t want that developing brain to be overburdened with information now do we…”. I smiled politely when all I really wanted to do was slap the smirk off his face with the envelopes I now had in my possession.

I do wish Father wouldn’t let Wibble treat me like I was an idiot and still in nappies, but I had long since given up hope of my Papa saying anything to him. I doubt I shall ever know what happened that day at at Preston Chadwick, That it involved Wibble, my father, a nameless Hungarian, some sharp farm utensils and copious amounts of axel grease are all I’ve managed to establish over the years. Suffice to say my father has felt obliged to keep Wibble in employment ever since, despite his embarrassing boorishness and having a bead of sweat hanging off the end of his nose constantly. At least I think it’s sweat

But to more interesting things, I opened the first envelope. It was from The Egerton Stage School in London offering me a place for the next four years. I was overwhelmed. This was my dream. For as long as I can remember I had wanted to act. To feel the presence of the audience in the theatre or perhaps even to become involved in the new medium of moving cinema. I hardly had time to take in the details of the offer when the opening of the second envelope stopped me in my tracks. It was a telegram from the Government with just a few short words. “Cathcart. Stop. You are required for a Top Secret mission. Stop. The very safety of the country depends on it. Stop. You are required to come to Whitehall immediately. Stop Report to Templeton on your arrival. Stop Regards W.C Stop.

Sometimes I wished I had done my degree in Landscape Gardening rather than Counter Espionage and Drama, but what’s done is done and I have to say I was rather drawn to the words “Top Secret”. What could it mean? A new weapon? A hitherto unknown enemy that needs a good thrashing? The curiosity was almost too much to bear.

I looked up from the notes to see my parents gazing at me inquisitively, eager to know their mysterious content. I looked down at the detail again, and then up again…and then the weight of expectation hit me like a medicine ball in Gym at Shrewsbury. Do I let myself down, my parents down, or my country down? I thought for a few seconds and then had an extraordinary moment of clarity. The answer was staring me in the face. I took a deep breath, stood up straight and began to open my mouth to announce my decision….and then…

Cathcart the Intrepid part 1 by John Linney

The sun streamed through the bedroom curtains piercing radiant beams onto the eiderdown. The bedding rippled and shifted as its occupant stirred from a deep satisfying sleep. Satisfying for him that is but not for any other occupant within earshot. Cathcart Enoch Travers, second son of Sir Arthur and Lady Constance Travers slept blissfully as his nocturnal thundering shook the very fabric of the family home to its solid Yorkshire foundations. Cathcart despite this affliction was a considerate and well thought of young gentleman, mostly brought up distantly at Shrewsbury School and a brief sojourn at Durham University.
He sat up in bed surveyed the room for clothes, morning tea and washing attire. He was used to this being prepared so he did not have to scramble about in a wholly undignified manner.
Nearly an hour passed before Cathcart jauntily descended the staircase and trotted into the breakfast room.
“Morning all and what a splendid one it is what?” Cathcart said generally scanning the room for its other occupants.
“I have been up for some considerable time enjoying the ‘wonderful’ morning you have slept through young man. I do sometimes wish you showed a sense of urgency to get up and at it so to speak” his father replied ruffling the Times noisily.
“Darling, we have some news to impart son. News which may have great bearing on your future indeed” Lady Constance said with a slight quiver in her voice.
“News mother you intrigue me! Spill the beans do” Cathcart answered eagerly tucking into his kippers. Cathcart was undoubtedly the loudest, most enthusiastic eater at his school and indeed college. Rather like his snoring however, he was unaware of the fact. This was mainly down to his likeable, willing nature and no one having the heart to tell him.
“What your mother is attempting to impart is that we are branching into the Indian subcontinent” Sir Arthur said
“I assume you are talking the business and not as a family. I know Digby has exotic tastes but I am not led to believe he has met any foreign suitors. Has he met any suitors at all incidentally? ”
“Your brother’s personal life is complicated dear, almost baffling. Such a nice boy, so fond of his mother” his mother said wistfully.
“We are opening trading with a Mr Sunil Desai of Calcutta. Mr Desai is a very wealthy cloth merchant with contacts from Ceylon to China. We have secured you a position with the police force in Calcutta to make sure all goes smoothly but without actually involving you” his father said. “You leave on Saturday from Liverpool. We have employed an experienced ex serviceman called Fosdyke to be your gentleman’s gentleman”.
“Ah right so er, right ho”? A startled Cathcart said looking as though he was being asked to abseil off a tall building head first. He stared at his kippers hoping they would answer him.
At that point the breakfast room door opened and then