Ramage and the Drum Beat by Dudley Pope

Ramage and the Drum Beat by Dudley Pope


Author:Dudley Pope
Language: eng
Format: mobi, epub
Tags: Historical, Fiction, Sea Stories, Action & Adventure, War & Military
ISBN: 9781842324738
Publisher: House of Stratus
Published: 2000-10-23T05:00:00+00:00

Stafford had all the keys made within a couple of days because fortunately the major-domo had been only too glad to have the three foreign sailors help carry the furniture into the house; indeed, he had thanked them specially for driving the carts for the last mile since by then each of the carters had relapsed into a drunken stupor.

Ramage and Jackson had carried in a few chairs when suddenly Ramage had noticed that Stafford was missing and then discovered that the first time the Cockney had entered the house he had seen what Ramage had failed to notice – the key of a side door hanging on a hook on the wall. Within five minutes of first removing the key Stafford had taken it to the cart to make the impression, stowed the two pieces of soap in his little box, and returned the key to the hook.

After that it had been simple: Stafford had told Ramage the few tools he needed, and a blacksmith had been only too willing to sell some strips of metal. During the two days that Stafford had been filing away in their room at the inn, with one or two of the other sailors always lolling about casually, but keeping guard in case the innkeeper or his wife heard the rasping, Ramage or Jackson would stroll past Don Ricardo’s house to see if the Admiral had arrived.

On the evening he finished the keys; Stafford came to Ramage and said: ‘I’d like to try ’em tonight, sir, just to be on the safe side.’

Ramage thought for a moment. To be sure all the servants in Don Ricardo’s house were asleep, Stafford would have to be out after curfew. Trying the keys meant risking being caught burgling the house and completely wrecking Ramage’s plan. But if they didn’t fit they’d be useless on the night they were needed – a night when there’d be no second chance.

‘Very well. Go carefully, though. If you get caught…’

Ramage tried to think of a tactful way of putting it, then decided Stafford would understand anyway: ‘Listen, Stafford – if you’re caught, we’ll have to swear we know nothing about it.’

‘It’s all right, sir; I understand, but don’t worry. I won’t get caught. If I do, I’m all prepared.’ He patted the waistband of his trousers. ‘Got me file an’ a strip of brass, so I won’t stay be’ind bars long! I’d like ter go now, sir, an ’ide up near the ’ouse a’fore curfew.’

Ramage nodded. ‘Good luck.’

That night Stafford came back to the inn late and crept over to Ramage’s bed to whisper, ‘Fitted a treat, sir. Didn’t ’ave to give even one ’o’ them a wipe o’ me file!’

‘Good! Any trouble getting in?’

‘None, sir. I ’id in that little shed place, where the gardener keeps ’is tools.’

‘Fine, you can tell me more in the morning.’


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