The Bell Ringers

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Authors: Henry Porter
the men and woman dispersed without acknowledging each other.
    Kate realised they must have picked up Russell at the cafe for the first time, otherwise they would have known who he was and followed him less aggressively. This could only mean they’d latched onto the lawyer because he’d been seen with her. So, she was the main target, not merely someone who was being watched as part of the security measures in advance of the funeral, which was what she had assumed.
    Well, damn them, she thought: if some milk-faced security bureaucrat thought she was worth watching, good luck to him. She didn’t give a damn. She didn’t belong to the town, nor did she have any part in the morbid hyper-anxiety that seemed to have gripped the country in her absence. But in the next seconds she reminded herself that she was now indeed part of High Castle, even if only for a few weeks. Eyam’s will effectively tied her to the coordinates of his mysterious exile. Perhaps he was forcing her to become involved in whatever it was that had made him leave the centre of things.

6
The Mourners
    The wake conformed to the pattern in the church. The locals gathered in three defensive circles near the buffet table, juggling plates and glasses; the people from Eyam’s Oxford days staked out the middle of the room for a reunion, while the politicians, civil servants and business people claimed the Old Pineapple House, a conservatory built along the inside of a high garden wall, where they were being conspicuously hosted by Ingrid Eyam with veil raised and a sparkle in her eye.
    Kate took a glass of wine from a tray of drinks and almost immediately became aware of someone clutching at her arm. She turned to find Diana Kidd with an ardent look in her eye. ‘We’re claiming you as ours,’ she said and wheeled round to the half dozen people. ‘This is the person who saved me from those dreadful police. Lord knows what would have happened if you hadn’t stepped in. I’d probably have been charged with assault or something. These fine people are David’s closest friends in High Castle. Aren’t you?’ she said encouragingly.
    â€˜Do you know the Indian gentleman?’ asked a large man with a stubble beard who looked uneasy in his suit and tie. Then he added, ‘Chris Mooney is the name. Mooney Photographic.’
    â€˜Yes, from Oxford,’ she replied.
    â€˜What he said chimed with me,’ he said. ‘It was as if he knew about our problems.’
    â€˜Oh, what are they?’ Kate asked.
    Mooney looked around the group. ‘There’s a campaign of harassment and intimidation against anyone who knew David.’
    â€˜Really!’ said Mrs Kidd. ‘She doesn’t want to hear about that. And anyway we’ve got no proof.’
    â€˜Why do you think you were stopped this morning?’
    â€˜I parked in the wrong place. It was all my silly fault.’
    â€˜How do you account for that van in the square?’ asked a strikingly pretty woman in her late twenties who introduced herself as Alice Scudamore.
    â€˜Security for the minister and all those important people: we live in an age of terrorism and assassination, dear. Look at what happened to David.’
    â€˜No, they were filming us,’ said Alice Scudamore. ‘They weren’t protecting anyone! The important people had gone. They were filming us, not from above but
head on
so they could get everyone’s face.’
    â€˜Well, who’s to say?’ said Mrs Kidd with an apologetic smile to Kate. ‘We mustn’t bore her, must we? Hugh Russell says Miss Lockhart is a high-powered lawyer from New York. She doesn’t want to hear about our little gripes. Did you like the service? The readings were beautiful, weren’t they?’
    â€˜And you saw the police drone,’ said Mooney aggressively.
    â€˜No.’
    â€˜You don’t notice them because they don’t make a sound. We

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