At the Inlet: September, Part 3 (Plotting on both sides)

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At 0900 the next morning Annette and Darlene met with Norman and a still groggy Kyle at the palace.

“I thought those girls would talk until the sun came up,” Kyle said, fighting another yawn.

“Gimme a break—you’re both married.  You gave them too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Darlene replied.

“So where do we stand with this?” Annette asked, getting to the point.  Norman went over both what Terry had found out from Cathy and their own research.  They confirmed the business about Seamus Gallen and the Druids.  The fact that Thor was an IP was news to them, though.  They were deeply disturbed by that fact.

“So what’s your thinking about this?” Darlene asked Norman.  Norman paused in thought.

“I’m thinking that this has been going on for a long time.”

“What’s been going on for a long time?” Annette asked, disturbed.

“Desmond’s been passing information to James Woolsey, who in turn was giving it to the Inland Police.”

“We have information that Desmond’s correspondence and contact with Woolsey has been regular, particularly since the cease-fire,” Kyle added.  “Since he used ecclesiastical envelopes, no one’s been really checking it out.”

“Besides, the Verecundans used to be our allies, until Your Highnesses and Terry changed everything,” Norman added.

“Blame it on us,” Darlene said.

“It doesn’t matter whether they were or weren’t,” Annette added.  “No one has any business doing espionage here.  But what kind of information was he collecting?  And how was he getting it?  I can’t see Desmond being privy to much.”

“Maybe that worthless sexton of his was helping him,” Darlene guessed.

“That’s what we’re thinking,” Norman said.  “During the war he served in logistics from time to time.  What we’d like to do is a complete investigation of this matter, including surveillance of both of them and some covert searches as well.”

“Do you think Julian’s involved?” Darlene asked, fearing the worst.

“No,” Norman said.  “And that’s not just because he’s my friend, either.”

“One of the things that keeps coming up in talking with people about the Canon is how little Desmond thinks of his brother,” Kyle added.  “I don’t think that Julian would do it and I don’t think Desmond would trust him either.”

Annette and Darlene looked at each other, then Annette turned to the men and said, “Go ahead.”

“Will you tell the King?” Norman asked.

“I’ll discuss it with the King—proceed unless you hear otherwise.”

“What about my husband?” Darlene asked.

“Let his father handle it,” Annette said.  “I know it will be difficult, but it must be done this way.”

Desmond and the Woolseys gathered in his office and closed the door after a very sumptuous breakfast.  They spent the first part of their conversation on the status of the Anglican Diocese of Verecunda, trying to come up with a strategy that would move the Bishop on this matter.  After that their talk turned to other matters.

“I hear that your brother is romantically involved with Terry Marlowe,” James said.

“To the extent that my brother can be romantically involved with anyone, he certainly is,” Desmond replied.

“Evidently quite a bit, considering their trysts at the palace beach,” Thor merrily said.

“Obviously dearly departed Richard Marlowe underestimated his sister,” James chimed in.  “Our intelligence files were right about her after all.”

“Don’t discount the knowledge of a sibling,” Desmond asserted.

“It really doesn’t matter,” James said, “whatever they’ve done was enough to get her defrocked by her own church, and that’s destroyed her credibility.”

“Which is all we needed,” Thor stated.

“Dear Desmond’s brother here has done a great service for us,” James said, “whether he intended to or not.  But, as I understand it from Canon Lewis here, she still has many friends at the palace.”

“George was my closest friend before she arrived,” Desmond declared, “and he will be long after she’s gone.”

“So what about Darlene?” James asked.

“We have plans to change her mind,” Thor responded.  “She is Beran’s first daughter these days.  By the time we get through to Her Highness and others, Terry’s last trip to the shore will be with nails through her wrists and feet, just as her fellow fools of yore on Avinet’s Beach.”

“And if Darlene doesn’t?” Desmond asked.

“Then they’ll make that last trip together,” Thor confidently replied.

Terry went ahead with her Bible study and prayer time with the staff early in the morning.  She thought of going to the Cathedral; however, the Cathedral school had started up again and Julian had duties there; with the children there, their privacy was limited also.  Additionally Terry was afraid that she would “blow her cover” with Julian.  So she left the palace gate and purposed to do some follow-up visitation that she and Julian had managed to squeeze in with everything else.

She was passing the Foreign Ministry when one of the secretaries came running out of the building, saying, “Miss Marlowe, His Excellency Mr. Serlin wants to see you now.”  Terry followed the secretary in and was ushered directly into Foreign Minister Paul Serlin’s office.

“Sorry for the short notice,” Paul said, “I was planning to send for you at Princess Darlene’s, but you came by here first.”

“They have a private matter to attend to,” Terry replied.  “I was just passing by.”

“We have an important matter to discuss with you.”

“And what might that be?”

“Our ambassador in Point Collina was meeting with your friend, Andy Dell, who was just elected President of the Republic of Collina in a full election last week.”

“Extend him my congratulations.”

“President Dell mentioned that there was a piece of property that your father left to you in trust—I have photographs of it, it’s a small three-storey condo on the ocean beach.”  He showed her the photos.

“Like everything else, all they touched turned to rubbish,” Terry observed.  “I remember this. It’s gone downhill.  It was some of his rental property. I had forgotten about this.”

“So had a lot of other people,” Paul said.  “Under the terms of the trust, you were supposed to get it when you were twenty-five.  You left five years before that.  Your mother tried to have the trust broken, but before that the bank that was acting as trustee was nationalised and the property was seized for real estate taxes and other fees that they had conveniently left unpaid.”

“An all too common occurrence in those days.”

“Normally speaking, the Collinans demand payment of all of the back property taxes before restoring ownership of a piece of property, but President Dell had the provisional government make a resolution that exempted you from that requirement as an appreciation for all of your help in their return to the family of nations.  So, basically, if you want it, it’s yours.  We will be glad to facilitate the paperwork.”

“My only problem,” Terry responded, “is that, owing to my duties here, I cannot properly take possession of the property or manage it.”

“We have a solution for that, too,” Paul suggested.  “We have no embassy building in Collina, and we really need to close the one in Verecunda for security reasons.  Our proposal is to enter into a triple-net lease with you for the building.  We will make renovations to use it as an embassy.  We will leave the top floor apartment available for your use, and I would think the royal family would enjoy it during state visits.”

Terry thought for a minute.  “I’m interested.  Draw me up an agreement with a rental rate and let’s discuss this further.”

“We hope we can come to an agreement in a reasonable time,” Paul said, “because we would like to see you enjoy this for a special occasion.”

“Such as?”

“Your honeymoon.”  Terry looked at Paul in near shock.  “Right after the hurricane,” Paul resumed, “the Serlins on both sides of the border had another reunion.  We’re trying to be one family again.  Everyone knows about your relationship with Reverend Julian Lewis.  And everyone—including Max’s father and mother, brothers and sisters—wants you to be happy again.  You’ve suffered enough—we’ve all suffered enough.  It’s time for us to live with the ones we love rather than dying at the hands of those we hate.”

Terry looked out the window in near disbelief.  “You will never know what that means to me,” she said.  “People keep reminding me that I am a Gerland heiress, yet this is the first time I have ever obtained property from either of my parents.  And your family is more than kind.”  Terry and Paul discussed many items of foreign policy, but Terry finally left the Foreign Ministry with the feeling that another piece of her life was hers once more.

The monthly meeting of the Royal Port Commission took place a couple of days later.  Adam was an ex officio member of just about every commission and board in the country.  He was always faithful about making as many meetings as possible, but since the trip this intensified as he brought George with him as often as he could.  Since the main port facility for the country had moved to West Serelia, the Port Commission met there, and both of them were over there for it.

The meeting was routine and finished on schedule.  Adam asked George if they could come to the waterfront and spend a couple of minutes on an important matter.  They walked down past the slip and stopped at the seawall.

From where they were standing they could see the inlet across the lake, flanked by the palace and Serelia town on the right and the undeveloped country of a royal estate on the left.  Craft of all kinds were going in and out of the inlet, either heading to the port where they were standing or heading to various docks in town.  The lake odour wasn’t too bad that day, although the sewage treatment redevelopment contract had only been finalised for less than a month and mobilisation for construction was only now under way.

“How come we’re all the way out here just to talk?” George asked his father.

“It’s about the Canon,” Adam said gravely to his son.  “I think you should know he’s under investigation.”

“Investigation?  For what?”

“Espionage.”

“Desmond?”

“Look,” Adam said, “I know you’re very fond of him, and want him to be your next bishop…”

“But he’s a spy?  For whom?  Why?”

“The Verecundans.  Why, I’m not sure—probably related to his ambitions here.”

“But they’re no longer a threat,” George observed.

“Maybe—maybe not.  Some elements of their government are still loose of this Island—some in Verecunda, some elsewhere.”

“I’ve heard rumours about Seamus Gallen being in Vidamera,” George admitted.

“Thor is one of Gallen’s men,” Adam said.  “He was in the Inland Police.”  George turned a shade paler at that statement—he remembered all too well seeing the Inland Police in action during the trip.

“Desmond and Thor met at the University of Verecunda, before Desmond went off to seminary in the U.K. and Thor—for a short time—in the States.  When we were allies, Desmond went down there about twice a year—the Bishop never liked it, but I saw nothing wrong with it.  They probably got together then.  I think they were closer friends than most people—me included—realised.”

They stood there for a minute.  “I tried to tell you about Desmond…” Adam said.

“Don’t rub it in, please,” George snapped.

“All right, son,” Adam replied.  “But we must do our duty now.  You’ve got to keep this under your hat until the Intelligence Service is finished.”

“That shouldn’t be too hard.  Have you looked at our schedule for the next week or two?  I’ll hardly see my bride, let alone Desmond.”

“For once, that should work in everyone’s favour.”

“Does Darlene know?”

“Darlene and your mother have been working on this before they ever bothered to tell me.”

“I can’t believe that Darlene didn’t tell me,” George said, a little despondent.

“Don’t blame her,” Adam said.  “Your mother decided—probably for the best—that it was my duty to break the news to you, not hers.”

“That’s unbelievable,” George said.  “Just a few months ago, they didn’t get along well enough to even have a civil dinner conversation.  Now they’re in the spy business together.”

“But since we’re on weighty matters, we’ve got another one to attend to,” Adam interjected.

“What’s that?” George asked.

“Julian and Terry need to be married as soon as possible.”

“Why?”

“We’ve got Advent and Christmas and Winter Court coming up.  Julian’s got to have time to prepare for that.  They have to have time for a honeymoon.  That means that they need to be married by the end of next month at the very latest.”

“I was hoping Desmond would help us.”

“Son, we’re going to have to get this done without him.”

George thought for a minute.  “I’ll make you a deal, Father.  You and the intelligence service handle the Canon.  I’ll work something out for Julian and Terry.”

“That’s fair,” Adam replied.  “I must say I’m surprised that you haven’t asked if Julian’s involved in this.  Everyone else is.”

“Desmond tends to look down on Julian, especially since he went to seminary.  I probably know that better than anyone.  Also, Desmond’s been more defensive about Terry since she’s been here and seeing Julian.  In March, she was a curiosity for him; since she came, and since the trip, she’s become a threat, I guess.  He’s been trying to hide that but I’ve known him too long.”

“I’m sorry this is turning out in this way,” Adam said.  “I know it hurts you.”

“Do you know if Terry’s Chinese relatives serve crow at their restaurant?”  Both of them got a laugh out of that.  But George resumed.  “If this is true about Desmond, do Darlene and I get another personal spiritual advisor to take his place?”

“That’s something else we need to discuss—your mother’s got an idea about that.”

The next week saw an almost unnatural routine about it.  Julian and Terry found time to do some visitation, which included visiting the Serelian Veterans’ Home.

George was out at a ceremony in Serelia Beach when he ran into Norman Cameron.  He took Norman aside.

“My father has decided that Julian and Terry need to be married by the end of October,” George informed Norman.  “We must find a way to get Julian to propose, and soon.”

“I think they’re both ready for this,” Norman replied.  “The problem is Julian—I think he’s afraid of popping the question.”

“Because he thinks she’ll say yes or because he thinks she’ll say no?” George asked.

“Both,” Norman answered.

George thought a second.  “I think I’ve got a idea—even Desmond can help us here.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Norman answered.

Darlene and Terry were just about to the end of their backlog, and they had even heard most of their appeals as well.  One Tuesday afternoon, Terry was rather unenergetic.

“Is there something wrong?” Darlene asked her friend.

“No,” Terry answered.

“You didn’t each lunch today,” Darlene observed.  “For that matter, you didn’t eat it yesterday.”  They looked at each other in silence.  “Are you fasting, Terry?

Terry nodded yes.

“Is it about Julian?”

Terry nodded yes again.

“It’s serious now, isn’t it?”  Darlene knew what the royal family had decided, but hadn’t told Terry about it.

“Yes it is, Darlene.  I want Julian to propose.  But more than that I want God’s will for it.”

“Let’s break for the day—this is more important.”  They had a time of prayer about it, but Terry slipped out to be alone with God.

The next morning, Julian came into the Cathedral early.  Near the lectern was a small chapel with the baptistery on it; it was quite ornate.  Julian passed by when she saw Terry sprawled out on the floor of the chapel with her Bible next to her.  He gasped, then shook her to awake her.  She roused herself and he helped her up.

“What were you doing here?”

“I came last night to pray,” Terry replied.  “I must have fallen asleep.  I guess I’m ready to join the disciples at Gethsemane.”

“Would you like some breakfast?  They’re still serving it to the Cathedral staff?”

She looked at him, thought a minute, and said, “Only if you join me, Julian.”

“It would be my pleasure,” Julian said as they left the chapel together.

Two weeks after Adam and George met by the lake, the royal family assembled at the palace.  Joining them were Norman and Ruel Collingswood, the Bishop’s brother and the chief of both the Intelligence Service and the Constabulary.  They started by going over all of the evidence, both that which they knew going into the investigation and that which the Intelligence Service had found out since their last meeting.

“There’s no question in our mind that the Canon has been passing secrets—not only palace tittle-tattle, but military secrets as well—since at least the start of the Drahlan rebellion.  He’s used the Cathedral’s sexton as his ‘investigator,’ if you please.  He gave the Verecundans some of this information during his regular trips there; the rest, as you know, was sent under ecclesiastical cover.”

“I’m surprised that he didn’t tip them off about my suspicions about the Verecundans,” George remarked.

“He suppressed that in his reports,” Ruel came back.  “You were the key to his long term future here—he felt he couldn’t afford to let the Verecundans know about that.”

“So why did he do it?” Darlene asked.  “Money?  The Lodge?  Something else?”

“They did pay him some money—he has an account on the mainland.  But the sums they sent him were surprisingly small.  It’s remarkable how much information they actually got from him for as little money they paid for it.  We’re still not completely clear about his relationship with Thor Woolsey, but we think that’s involved as well.  We think that Desmond’s goals were primarily ecclesiastical—he wanted to remould the Church of Serelia.  He concluded the easiest way to get that done was to increase Verecundan influence here, and they convinced him that the best way for him to help was to pass state secrets.  I’m amazed how naïve he was in so many ways.”

“Well, that’s all a matter of speculation,” Adam said. “I think we know what has to be done.  We’ll call him into the Bishop’s on Monday and get this done.”

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