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Valentine Williams

The Portcullis Room

Hodder & Stoughton 1934

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PAGE ONE

As they cleared the harbour mouth of Port Phadric on the mainland, Hans, chef of the S.Y. Ariel, was putting on the fresh herrings to grill for breakfast. Now the sun of a wan September day was high in the heavens and the smoky blue cloud on the horizon for which the Ariel's bowsprit was pointed had sharpened to the grey hogback of Toray rising stark and steep out of the sea. For more than four hours Shamus the pilot had shared the bridge with Captain McKenzie in a stony silence. Philip Verity, Stephen Garrison's European manager, to whom Garrison had entrusted all arrangements for the cruise to Toray, was responsible for Shamus. He had picked him up on the quays at Port Phadric and, on discovering that his home was at Toray, had engaged him on the spot to take the yacht across to the island. An undersized, Gaelic-speaking fisherman, monosyllabic and shy, "the English," as he called it, was evidently a foreign tongue to Shamus. His guttural, singsong utterance, his awkward way of framing his sentences, had rung strangely in the ears of the party of New-Yorkers when Verity brought him to the saloon to present him to Garrison. They found his English not even as intelligible as the cook's Hoboken variety, and much less fluent. Middle-aged and modern-minded and, through long expatriation, probably more sophisticated than the bulk of his fellow Americans, Philip Verity was not hi the least inclined to the metaphysical. But in the deep-

Valentine Williams

Classic Crime Fiction

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