Chapter 1: Chapter One
DCS Christopher Foyle was asleep when a banging noise woke him. Startled, he scrambled out of bed and pulled on his dressing gown, then made his way downstairs barefoot. He didn't bother trying to move stealthily because it was clear the intruder was making too much noise to hear him. Entering the kitchen he caught sight of his son, Andrew, as the latter rattled about in the pantry.
"What the hell are you doing?"
"I was trying not to wake you." His son's grin was as irrepressible as ever, Foyle noted.
"You're trying not to – You're making such a bloody racket." Foyle spoke grouchily, even though he was pleased to see his son.
"Sorry. I don't suppose you've got any food, have you? I left too early for breakfast."
"Food? Yes, there's food. There's some eggs." Foyle vaguely gestured to the fridge.
"That's about it," his father admitted. He had been intending to pick up some supplies today; now he supposed he'd have to pick up more. "Got some leave?"
"No, I've been posted." Andrew glanced across at him as he handled the eggs.
"Right. Well, you put something together. I'll have mine scrambled. I'll go and get changed." Foyle turned to the door, then looked back with a slight smile. "Uniform suits you."
"Thanks. Wish I could say the same about your dressing gown," Andrew answered, grinning.
Foyle twisted his mouth and grunted, biting back a reprimand for the boy's cheekiness.
Foyle entered the kitchen, washed, shaved and dressed in his shirt, suit trousers and waistcoat, the jacket over his arm. He found Andrew spooning the scrambled eggs out of the saucepan onto slices of toast.
"Tea?" asked Foyle.
A few minutes later they were settled on either side of the kitchen table and tucking into their breakfast.
"How did you get down here so early?" asked Foyle.
"A friend drove me down, Bruce Leighton-Morris. I knew him up at Oxford. Bumped into him in London yesterday and he put me up for the night, then drove me down today. He's recceing for the Crown Film Unit."
"Right. So you've finished your training then, have you?"
"Mmm-hmm." Andrew swallowed a mouthful of tea.
"Are you attached to a squadron now?"
"No, and I don't know why not." Foyle glanced up at his son's pensive tone. "Most of the chaps I was with have already gone operational. Bombers, coastal command. But Calder – he was our CO – sent me here. Some sort of cloak-and-dagger show; don't breathe a word to a soul, that sort of thing."
"That include me?"
"Absolutely," Andrew said, with a wry smile.
"I understand." Foyle picked up his cup and finished his tea. "Well, good to have you home, anyway." He glanced at his watch. "I'd better be going. You in tonight?"
"I don't know. I expect so, though."
"See you later, then."
Andrew gave a nod as Foyle got to his feet and cleared away his breakfast things.
"Wash up, when you're done."
Andrew rolled his eyes, causing Foyle to raise an eyebrow. "All right, Dad, I'll wash up."
Foyle drove through the town to the police station, glad to see people enjoying the August sunshine. However, he was less happy with the news Milner gave him on his arrival at the station.
"Morning, sir. There was a raid last night, did a lot of damage in the residential area around Henley Terrace, Bexley Avenue, Maize Hill, and Ecclethorne Glen. And there's been a report of looting in the area."
Foyle grimaced. "Why must people be so vile?" he asked rhetorically. "Much missing?"
"Jewellery, watches, and money, as far as we can tell," Milner answered.
"All right, we'd better go and talk to the ARP Warden."
Milner nodded, and Foyle turned on his heel, heading back along the corridor to the yard at the back of the station where he'd left his car. Milner followed, his limping gait more noticeable in the quiet corridor.
"Leg giving you any trouble?" Foyle asked as they stepped out into the sunshine.
"Now and again, sir. Just a twinge occasionally, but the doctors warned me that it might."
"Well, let me know if it gets too much," Foyle said.
"Yes, sir." Milner eased himself into the passenger seat as Foyle climbed in behind the steering wheel. As if embarrassed, Milner changed the subject. "Have you heard anything from your son lately?"
"He turned up early this morning," Foyle answered. "Woke me up, as a matter of fact, clattering about looking for some breakfast."
Milner smiled. "Home on leave?"
"No, he's been posted locally, apparently. No idea where exactly, or what he'll be doing – it's all hush-hush, it seems, even for me."
"Really? That seems a bit harsh."
"Well, that's the way it has to be, I suppose," Foyle mused, although he felt slightly resentful that Andrew couldn't even tell his own father. After all, if a Detective Chief Superintendent couldn't be trusted to keep secrets, who could? But he didn't repeat that thought to Milner, any more than he had to Andrew; he'd had the feeling, anyway, that his son relished having official secrets from his father.
While Foyle and his Sergeant were beginning to investigate the looting, Andrew was reporting for duty at a very large house on the coast outside Hastings.
"Good morning, Foyle. My name is Wing Commander Keller. Welcome to The Manor."
Keller picked up a file from his desk. "I have your instructor's report. He says a lot of good things about you."
"Thank you, sir." Andrew smiled a little, pleased to hear this.
"I just hope it's true," Keller said, looking up from the file to stare at Andrew.
Andrew lifted his head, wondering at the change of tone in Keller's voice, until the older man remarked, "You flew under the Forth Bridge."
Andrew felt his stomach clench and he glanced away as he began to explain. "We – had a bit of a bet."
"Risking your own neck, and more to the point, a valuable aircraft." Keller pointed out, leaving no doubt in Andrew's mind that the aircraft was valued rather more highly than the pilot.
The older man turned away and rounded his desk again. "Still, it seems you have an aptitude for low-level flying, and that's why you're here."
Andrew swallowed, relieved that it appeared that he wasn't going to get into trouble.
"I imagine you were disappointed not to be posted to a squadron?" Keller asked, looking back up at him as he set the file back down on his desk.
"Yes, sir. If you want the truth, I was."
Keller stepped across to the coat stand and took down his gas mask and tin helmet, then leaned in close. "Well, this is much, much more important."
Andrew felt puzzled, but turned to follow his superior as Keller led the way out of the office.
"What I'm about to show you is probably the biggest, most important secret of the war. This goes no further. You don't even whisper a word to your mother."
"Actually, sir, my mother's dead," Andrew answered.
Keller rounded on him. "Security is my responsibility, and if you step out of line, I'll come down on you like a ton of bricks. Is that understood?"
Andrew suppressed a shudder, startled by the older man's menacing glare, and instantly regretting his quick jokey reply. "Absolutely, sir."
"Good. Right. Well, let me introduce you to the three most important letters you'll hear in your life: RDF, Radio Direction Finding. Also known as radar." Keller had led the way through the house to an outside door, which he now opened and stepped through. As he and Andrew climbed into a waiting car, Keller explained how Hitler had managed to make such easy work of Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands by taking out their entire Air Forces before they'd got off the ground. Keller asserted that this wouldn't happen to Britain because of radar.
Then he asked Andrew how good his science was, and Andrew was forced to admit it had never been his best subject. Fortunately Keller took pity on him and gave him a simple explanation of how radar used reflected radio waves to determine where an aircraft was positioned, which meant they could spot enemy aircraft at night, even in cloud, long before they reached the coast, which meant that they could be intercepted and destroyed before they could do any damage.
Keller continued his explanation, talking about the Chain Home stations, the London HQ, and the sector control rooms in different parts of the country which controlled the British air defences.
"What's my part in all this, sir?" asked Andrew, impatient to know why he was wanted.
"I'm about to introduce you to Group Captain Graeme, he's a brilliant man. Science background. Runs this station, and more or less built it. He trained the people that work here, and he's put together a formidable team. He'll introduce you. You'll be based at The Manor, but this is where the vital work will be done. That's why you're here."
Finally they arrived, and Keller led Andrew inside a large building where he introduced him to the Group Captain.
"Very good to meet you, Foyle. Very good indeed." Group Captain Graeme was a large man, with a thick moustache and dark hair. He came around his desk to shake hands with Andrew. "I don't go in for too much formality here, unlike Keller. ‘Killer Keller’, that's what we call him. Ha!" The man barked a laugh, and Andrew recognised him as the bluff, hearty, all-chaps-together type that he'd encountered many times so far in his RAF career. He wasn't sure that he didn't prefer the quieter, if more menacing, Keller.
Graeme offered him some tea, which Andrew promptly and politely turned down.
"It's very good of you to help us out. The Wing Commander put you in the picture, I hope?"
"To a certain extent, sir, yes."
"At the moment we're fine-tuning and calibrating the system," Graeme explained. "It's a bit late in the day, some might say, but that's where you come in."
Andrew gave a slight nod to show he was paying attention.
"Low flying," Keller put in.
"Low flying, night flying, yes," Graeme said.
"You're going to track me?" Andrew asked, suddenly making sense of what he'd been told.
"Find you, track you, everything. Except shoot you down. Ha!" He laughed, then his expression became more serious. "Make sure you turn on your IFF, by the way. It's only one little switch, and you'd be amazed how many pilots forget it."
"Nobody knows about these exercises," Keller explained. "And if you don't identify yourself with an IFF signal, you'll have every gun on the south coast firing at you."
Andrew gave a half-smile. "I won't forget, sir," he promised. He was beginning to feel quite excited about his new posting.
"I can't tell you how important all this is to us, Foyle. We recently lost one of our plotters. Most unfortunate. We have to get the new team up to scratch."
"Plotters?" asked Andrew, puzzled.
"I'll show you round," Graeme said, suddenly energetic.
Andrew followed him out of the office, and was led into a room which was, it seemed, filled with busy young women working at strange pieces of equipment.
"At ease, everyone. This is Pilot Officer Foyle, our very own hedge-hopper. We'll be tracking him as of tomorrow."
A young woman with striking red-gold hair and dark eyes stood up from her chair beside Andrew as Graeme introduced the women: "Corporal Howse, Sergeant Stewart, Corporal Holdsworth."
Andrew noticed that the young woman just beside him was the Sergeant, and smiled at her before offering a general greeting all round.
"You'll get a chance to meet up at The Manor. That's where they're billeted," Graeme told him, and Andrew immediately hoped that he'd be billeted there, too. "A home away from home, isn't it, ladies?"
"Damp, draughts and dreadful food," answered Stewart, giving Andrew a small smile. "Not my idea of home."
"Don't put him off! Ha!" He bent towards a screen in front of which Stewart had been sitting. "Now, this is what I wanted to show you, Foyle." Andrew moved closer to lean over the back of Stewart's empty chair. "This is what is going to win us the war."
Andrew peered at the circular screen, seeing only an odd triangle of light sweeping around the screen. Fortunately Graeme explained to him just what he was looking at, a radar screen, and how it related to the RDF that Keller had told him about in the car on the way over.
To Andrew's disappointment, he was taken back to The Manor before he could get to know any of the plotters any better, and from there he was sent home for the night. He and his father had supper out, then Andrew took himself to bed early for what turned out to be a very good night's sleep. He returned to The Manor early the next morning and was sent straight to the airfield for his first test flight. He felt wildly excited when he saw his plane – a brand new Spitfire, which looked quite beautiful on the runway.
He greeted the mechanic cheerfully, and was assured that everything was in order and ready to go. Then he climbed up into the cockpit and started her up.
Back in the sector control room, Corporal Holdsworth reported that the target Spitfire had taken off.
"All right," Graeme said. "He'll head inland about thirty miles, then turn. We've got nine minutes until the exercise starts."
"Standing by, sir," Sam Stewart reported, staring intently at her screen. Her headset seemed heavier than usual this morning, and she was aware of the extra tension in the room. She forced herself not to think about anything except the exercise they were to carry out, knowing that she couldn't afford to be distracted. She knew the Group Captain didn't particularly like her, and that he would probably be glad of an opportunity to send her away should it arise, but that was something she was used to and could ignore.
"Haven't you got him yet?" Graeme asked a few minutes after Andrew Foyle had reported he'd completed his circuit and was coming in.
"Nothing, sir, just a blank screen," Sam said tensely, aware of how tight her shoulders felt. "Wait a minute, there's something." She heard Graeme step closer behind her chair as she added, "No, that's just ground reflection."
"Come on, Stewart, this is not good enough. He'll be here in seven minutes, and if he was the enemy, we'd need to see him by now."
Sam bit her lip, forcing herself not to retort, then glanced up over her shoulder, sighing silently when Graeme moved away again. She hated it when he loomed over her chair, even if he did keep his hands to himself.
"Well?" Graeme asked shortly afterwards.
"Still nothing, sir," Sam answered, slightly anguished.
"All right, try a different modulation."
She reached up to the knobs and switches above her screen and changed the frequency with a feeling of mild relief. Unfortunately, changing the modulation didn't help, as Sam still couldn't get a signal.
"Three minutes and counting," Graeme observed tetchily. "He's right on top of us."
"He's not there, sir," Sam said, knowing she couldn't wave a magic wand and suddenly produce the signal. "Not anywhere."
"I've picked up an echo from his IFF, sir," Jane Holdsworth said from behind Sam.
"He's out there," Graeme insisted, coming back to lean over Sam's shoulder. "Where is he?"
Suddenly a voice came over the tannoy, making them all look up. "This is Target Spitfire to Base. I've just dropped a bomb. You're all goners!"
Andrew Foyle sounded quite smug, Sam thought, and bit her lip, wondering if Graeme would reprimand her.
To Sam's great relief, the Group Captain didn't single her out for a reprimand, but he was quite cross with everyone that they hadn't been able to find and track the target Spitfire. Sam escaped to the dining room for lunch with a considerable sense of relief. The food might be unappetising and the company rather solemn, but at least she could get away from Graeme for a while.
She had already taken a seat and begun eating her lunch in a desultory fashion, when Andrew Foyle came in. He fetched himself some food, then headed straight for her table.
"Hello, there. May I join you?"
He grinned at her cheerfully and she forced herself to smile back at him as she acquiesced. While she was glad to see a cheerful face around The Manor, she had an awful feeling that he would be no different from all the other young Pilot Officers in believing that the WAAF were all young women eager to give up their virtue for any swaggering young man in RAF blue. Sam wasn't like that – first because she was a vicar's daughter, and secondly because she tended to prefer older men – though not men like Graeme.
"Thanks," Andrew said, seating himself opposite her. "How was it you described this place? Damp, dismal, dreadful food? Well, you were right about the food, anyway."
Sam nodded glumly. She had a healthy appetite, yet she rarely felt as if she'd got enough to eat, and she had a feeling the situation would just get worse if the rationing became stricter. Sometimes she wished she'd become a Land Girl instead; working on her uncle's farm, she'd probably have noticed the rationing rather less than she did in the WAAF.
"Everyone thought what you did this morning was tremendous,” she told Andrew. “I've still got no idea how you managed to sneak up on us." Although she felt sure he'd be smug in response to her words, she couldn't help telling him, honesty being one of her besetting sins, or strongest virtues, depending on whom you asked.
"Well, I suppose I was lucky," he answered, grinning.
"That's someone you don't meet every day: a modest pilot," Sam said, surprised and wondering if she'd misjudged him.
"No, actually, you're right," Andrew declared. "It was a damned good piece of flying."
She felt disappointed that he'd lived up to her expectations after all, but she refrained from saying anything. "We'll just have to try harder next time."
He smirked at her from across the table, as if to say that they could try as hard as they liked, but they wouldn't succeed.
"This radar work – every day there are more raids, and soon – it's so important," she said, trying to convey to him the seriousness of the job, and that it wasn't just a game.
"How long have you been a WAAF?" he asked.
"Oh. I started with the VADs, but then I heard they were looking for people who could work nights and weren't afraid of being bombed."
Andrew looked up in obvious surprise from the glass of water he was just pouring for himself. "And you aren't?" he asked, his tone a mixture of disbelief and admiration.
"Well, yes, of course I am. But I suppose they meant people who could keep their heads in a raid. I'm a vicar's daughter, and I'm not the sort who goes off in a flap. So I thought that might be me. Anyway, I applied and I was accepted, and they sent me to Bawdsey, where I was trained. That was in April, and then I was sent here."
"So you live here?"
"Actually my parents are in Lyminster and I occasionally manage to spend a weekend with them, but most of the time I'm here." She looked out of the window. "We've got rooms in the old stable block, in what's known as the ‘WAAFery’."
"The three of you?" Andrew asked.
Sam got the impression that he really liked the idea of the three women being billeted out there together. "The plotters, yes."
"You must be quite a team," he said, smiling. He looked down at his plate, hummed a little, as if in dismay, then asked abruptly, "Listen, when are you back on duty?"
"Not until three," Sam answered.
"Then let's go out for lunch."
"What?" she asked, bemused.
"I know the perfect place," Andrew insisted. "Come on." He got up from the table and quickly moved towards the door.
Sam looked down at the unappetising food on her plate, glanced around her, then got up to follow him.
Half an hour later they were sitting on a grassy hillside outside Hastings, eating thickly cut sandwiches from actual china plates. Andrew had nipped home and raided his father's pantry to make them a picnic lunch.
"This is lovely," Sam said gratefully, appreciating the thick, fresh bread and the sharp, tangy cheese.
"Yes, isn't it?" He gave her an admiring look before staring across at the town. "You could almost forget there was a war on."
"Oh, no," Sam protested quickly. "I mean, well, the war's all we ever think about here. Day and night." She gave him an apologetic look, sensing she was spoiling the mood – not that she wanted him to flirt with her.
"The people who run this show, they seem pretty tough," he observed, taking a bite of his own sandwich.
"They're all right, really," Sam said, mindful of things she couldn't say to him. "Group Captain Graeme can be a bit short-tempered. He was a pilot, you know, in the last war." She assumed Andrew would be impressed with that, as the pilots usually were. "He flew in Persia, and won lots of medals. And Wing Commander Keller – " She paused, wondering how best to phrase what she wanted to say. "He's not very friendly. But that's not why any of us are here."
"Hmm. Are all the operators girls?" Andrew asked.
Sam refrained from rolling her eyes. "Most of them are, I think," she said. "They say men are too ham-fisted." Andrew laughed. "Men peel potatoes, but women scrape them; that's the difference. Or at least, that's what they say." She made a gesture with her free hand. "We've got the right hands for the job." She wouldn't admit it to anyone else, but she felt a little proud of this fact.
Andrew glanced down. "I think you've got perfect hands," he said, lifting an eyebrow appreciatively.
Sam felt her cheeks getting warm. "You should stop flirting like that," she scolded him. "How do you know I haven't got a boyfriend?"
"I don't!" he said cheerily, as if it were of no consequence at all whether she had or not.
She shook her head, then laughed a little. All pilots were the same, it seemed.
"That's none of your business!" she told him, still laughing.
"Oh, I see. It's like everything else in this place: top secret!" He took a bottle from the basket in which he'd brought their picnic, and unscrewing the top, offered it to her. "Here."
"That's not beer, is it?" Sam asked, startled and trying to see the label. "You'll get me shot!"
"It's ginger beer," Andrew said reassuringly. "Don't drink it too fast."
She took the bottle from him with a sense of relief. Then as he took another from the basket and opened that, she gestured to him. "Cheers."
"Cheers!" Andrew grinned at her, and she couldn't help smiling back. He might not be her type, but he was a friendly young man and, as a newcomer, something of a breath of fresh air.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
The plot thickens.
Once again many thanks to my beta, dancesabove.
While his son was enjoying his impromptu picnic lunch with Sam Stewart, Foyle was discussing the looting case with Milner over a sandwich in a nearby pub. Foyle had suggested the venue because he was tired of the sight of his own office and hoped that a change in scenery would refresh his ideas.
"Well, it's definitely not the AFS volunteers, sir," Milner told him, swallowing a mouthful of beer. "I've interviewed all four of them, and they're all honest, as far as I can tell. Certainly none of them has a record."
"They didn't strike me as being dishonest, either," Foyle agreed. "So we're probably looking for an opportunistic petty thief." He sighed. "We'd better go through the list of known local men who are still in the area."
"Yes, sir." Milner made a quick entry in his pocket notebook. "How's Andrew getting on?" he asked.
"Very well, from what I can tell. Since his work is top secret, he can't tell me anything specific about it, but he seems to be enjoying it, and the company he's keeping."
Milner smirked a little at Foyle's eye roll. "Lots of pretty girls, are there?"
"So he tells me. He was waxing lyrical about one of the WAAF Sergeants last night. I just hope she's the sensible type, because my son's not likely to settle down before this war's over. He's having far too much fun."
"He's still young, yet," Milner said, trying to soothe Foyle.
The older man raised an eyebrow. "When I was his age, I was already engaged."
Milner nodded. "But the previous war was already over by then. By my reckoning, this one will go on even longer than the first one did."
Foyle sighed heavily. "I fear you're right.” He finished his sandwich, then swallowed the last of his beer. "Don't mind me, Milner, I'm feeling crabby today."
The younger man gave him an understanding smile. "Where to, next, sir?" he asked, levering himself to his feet.
"Back to the office, for now."
The two men put their hats back on as they made their way out of the Plume of Feathers into the street outside. The August sunshine was warm and Milner unconsciously echoed Andrew Foyle's observation about it being hard to remember there was a war on.
"I wish there wasn't," Foyle said as they climbed into the Wolseley.
Andrew got Sam back to The Manor in time for them to have a cup of tea before she had to be back at her post.
"Arundel was the best," she told him. "I was sent there while I was waiting to start training, and it was enormous fun. Arundel Castle. We were actually waited on by a butler, and the food was marvellous."
Andrew passed her a cup of tea from the urn. "Like here?" he teased as he in turn served himself some tea.
Sam chuckled. "There were twelve of us, billeted in a circular tower. The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk used to invite us to Red Cross Dances."
"Really?" His attention focused on Sam immediately, and she wondered if he would offer to take her dancing.
"But then I was sent to Bawdsey - that was where I met Lucy - and then the two of us were transferred here."
Sam was so caught up in her reminiscences that she didn't realise the danger of this admission until Andrew took her up on it.
"She isn't here anymore," Sam said, hoping he wouldn't ask her any questions.
They made their way to a table and Andrew pulled out a chair for her. "So, what happened to her?"
"I shouldn't have mentioned it," Sam admitted, hoping he'd take the hint and drop the subject. He was staring at her, though, so she added quietly, "She died."
"Oh, I'm sorry." He looked down at his cup of tea, and Sam breathed a silent sigh of relief. "Was it a raid?"
Sam frowned. "No, it was nothing like that at all," she said quickly, glancing briefly at him. Before Andrew could ask any more, they were interrupted by the Wing Commander.
"Foyle, you settling in?" he asked, getting himself a cup of tea from the urn.
"Yes, thank you, sir." Andrew rubbed at his face, then picked up his tea cup.
"Been given a billet?" Keller asked.
"Not yet, sir. I was rather holding out for the stable block, actually."
Sam winced at this, even though she knew from his smile that he was joking.
"No, that's just for the girls," Keller said, apparently taking Andrew's remark seriously.
"Too bad. I suppose I can stay at home. My father lives in Hastings."
Keller looked surprised by this. "Oh. Home Guard?" he asked, moving to the side of the table where Sam was sitting beside Andrew.
"No, actually he's a police officer. A Detective Chief Superintendent."
Sam felt startled by this news, although she wasn't sure why. Perhaps because Andrew hadn't struck her as a policeman's son – he was so flirtatious and not a bit serious.
"Well, you'd better stay with him, then," Keller said, an edge to his voice for which Sam couldn't account.
"Right," agreed Andrew with a half-smile.
"Sergeant Stewart, you should be getting back to your position," Keller said, giving her a stern look. He strode away carrying his cup of tea, and Sam glanced at Andrew. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but then didn't say anything. She wasn't sure what to say, and in the end settled for giving him an apologetic look before getting to her feet and making her way out of the dining room.
"Andrew Foyle." Keller had caught up with Graeme in the corridor outside the latter's office.
"What about him?" asked Graeme genially.
Keller followed him into the office. "Did you know that his father was a policeman? Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle. You may know the name."
"No," said Graeme, picking up his cigarette case from his desk and pocketing it.
"He lives in Hastings. He has something of a reputation."
"Really, Martin, I don't see – " Graeme began.
"Andrew Foyle had lunch with Sergeant Stewart today," Keller said, interrupting him.
"These flyboys don't waste any time," Graeme said, clearly amused.
"I overheard them," Keller said, his tone becoming impatient. "They were talking about Smith."
"Are you sure?" Graeme asked, his jocularity disappearing.
"He was asking questions," Keller said.
"It was very unfortunate," Graeme observed. "Poor Miss Smith." He frowned. "But everyone here was aware of the strain she had been under, and I thought we had decided to draw a line under the whole thing?"
"Well, maybe you should tell Foyle that?" suggested Keller, closing his eyes for a moment.
"I'm sure I don't need to," Graeme said.
"I just thought you ought to know, sir, that's all."
"Thank you, Martin. Now I do."
Keller gave a slight nod, then turned and let himself out of the office.
"So you can't tell me anything at all?" Foyle asked his son as he handed him a whisky after dinner that night.
"No, Dad, I can't," Andrew said, taking the glass and pulling a face.
"Everything's classified, is it?"
"Well," Andrew mused, his face giving away how much he did want to tell his father one thing. "They gave me a new Spit."
"Oh, well!" Foyle tried to sound as if that was exciting news, since Andrew clearly thought it was.
"I've never flown anything like it," he continued, and Foyle went to make himself comfortable in his armchair as he sensed his son was about to wax lyrical. He listened as Andrew eagerly described his experience of flying the Spitfire for the first time.
"So you can tell what you flew, but not where you flew it?" Foyle asked when Andrew was finished.
"I didn't leave England,” Andrew reassured him. “It was a test flight."
Foyle set his glass on the table beside his chair.
"I'm not actually going into combat, Dad, so you don't have to worry about me. Not yet, anyway."
Foyle closed his eyes and refrained from shaking his head; Andrew seemed to have no idea that his father worried about him whatever he was doing, and he always would. "Good crowd?" he asked after a moment.
"Yeah, they seem all right. The Wing Commander's a bit of a cold fish." He brought his glass to his lips to drink, then added, "There's this girl."
"There always is," Foyle responded dryly, fidgeting with his unbuttoned waistcoat.
"Sam's her name. Damn pretty," Andrew continued in a dreamy tone. "Brown eyes, red-gold hair, nice smile. The sort of girl you want to run out and buy flowers for."
If only that was all you wanted to do, Foyle thought to himself. He loved his son dearly, but there was no escaping the fact that Andrew was a terrible flirt and that he changed his 'best girl' at such regular intervals that Foyle often struggled to keep up with the name of the latest one.
"Trouble is, her father's a vicar, and that seems to have made her a bit wary of the Foyle charm." Andrew grinned easily at him from his chair, as if he had no doubts that this Sam would succumb to the 'Foyle charm' all too soon.
"Whereabouts is her father a vicar?" asked Foyle. "Somewhere local?"
"Not too local, thank goodness," Andrew said. "Lyminster, I think she said." He sighed.
"Oh yes, that's a fairly small village, out the other side of Worthing," Foyle observed. He'd seen the signposts for it, although he'd never visited.
"Dad, aren't there times when you think of – " his son began.
Foyle crossed his knee over his leg and clasped his hands. "Think of what?" He raised an interrogative eyebrow at the young man.
"Well, you know – marrying again." He ducked his head as his father gave him an unimpressed look.
"Here we go," Foyle said, reaching for his glass of whisky again.
"Is there someone else?"
"What, you think I'd tell you?" He picked up the glass and sipped at the amber liquid.
"Come on, Dad, it's been eight years." Andrew sounded impatient, as if he had no concept of remaining single for eight years. Foyle seriously doubted the boy could manage eight months without a 'best girl', never mind eight years.
"Andrew, I don't really think this is quite the right time for this, you know?" Foyle answered, beginning to push himself up from his chair.
"I don't see that the war makes any difference," Andrew protested quietly. "Life still goes on."
"Well, I sincerely hope so," Foyle said ironically, moving around his chair to fiddle with some of the papers in his desk. "What time you leaving tomorrow?" He changed the subject deftly, and was relieved when Andrew didn't try to revert back.
"Late. And I won't be in for dinner."
Foyle was aware of his son getting to his own feet. "Hmm. Sam?"
"Hoo, I should be so lucky," Andrew retorted. "No, I've got a night op."
Foyle twitched the corner of his mouth. "Right." He gave a small nod, which Andrew returned.
"Sleep well, Dad."
"You too." Andrew went out, taking his glass with him. "Take care," Foyle added softly, after he was out of earshot.
He sat back down in his chair and picked up his glass again. He thought of Andrew's question. He had wondered, from time to time, whether he'd ever meet someone else whom he'd want to marry, but so far no woman had managed to attract him in the same way, or even a similar way, as Rosalind Howard. Occasionally, perhaps when he was having dinner with Hugh Reid and his wife, he'd feel a little lonely without a wife of his own to go home to at the end of a long day, but for the most part he was content. He knew that some people, especially Andrew, probably imagined he was wallowing in grief for his dead wife, and while it was true he still missed Rosalind a good deal, he wasn't opposed to the idea of marrying a second time. It was just that, so far, he hadn't found the right woman. And unlike his philandering son, he had no intention of jumping between the sheets with just any pretty woman who crossed his path.
The following day, while his father and Milner were still trying to solve the mystery of the looter in Henley Terrace and the surrounding streets, Andrew met his friend Bruce for lunch before heading to The Manor.
"So, how you getting on, then?" Bruce asked as they headed along the pier to the outdoor café for lunch.
"Pretty well. I'd have thought you'd have gone back to London by now?"
"Huh, can't wait," Bruce said sincerely. "I don't know how you can stick it down here."
"I was born here," Andrew answered.
"Oh, must be inbred, then." Bruce chuckled. "No, I'm still stuck here for a couple more days."
"You should come to supper," Andrew suggested. "Meet my father."
"Why did he never come up to Oxford?" asked Bruce.
"I don't know. Suppose he was too busy."
They talked of their Oxford days while they ate their lunch. Then as Andrew took out a cigarette, he asked, "So, you still scouting locations for this epic of yours, then?"
"Don't knock it, Andrew," Bruce drawled, his arms crossed on his chest. "We may not be glory boys like you, but the CFU will come out of this war with its head held high."
"The Crown Film Unit?" Andrew asked, with a little laugh. "I can't see you making propaganda."
"It's not propaganda, it's Art." Andrew raised his eyebrows doubtfully at this. Bruce went on, "Well, actually, it's neither. It's a two-reeler about the need to conserve fuel."
Andrew nodded uncertainly. "Why Hastings?"
"Why not?" retorted Bruce. "This is where it's all happening. What is happening, by the way? You said you had no idea what you were going to be doing down here; presume you found out?"
Andrew nodded vaguely. "I can't really talk about it," he said. It was one thing to tell his father, who was a policeman, but quite another to tell Bruce.
"What?" asked Bruce, sounding surprised and disbelieving.
"Seriously. I'm on active service now, and – "
"You doing something hush-hush?" Bruce sat up eagerly.
"No," Andrew lied, shaking his head quickly.
"Come on, I'm interested."
"Look, Bruce, I ought to be going." Andrew glanced at his watch, then started to pull his wallet out of his trouser pocket.
"Frightened you off, have I?" asked Bruce, sounding disappointed.
"Let's go halves on the lunch." Andrew opened his wallet.
"Oh, forget it," Bruce said dismissively. "This one's on me." He looked at the bill the waitress had brought with Andrew's tea and delved into his coat pocket for his own wallet.
"I'm sorry, Bruce, I didn't mean to sound pompous."
"No, I understand." His friend didn't look up as he took a handful of banknotes out of his wallet, his eyes still on the bill. "Careless talk, and all that." He sorted through the notes, then pulled one out and folded it in half. "Now, let's see – "
The pair got to their feet and moved away from the table; Andrew took no notice of the man in the trilby who'd been watching them during their meal.
Sam sat staring intently at the radar screen, hoping that today she'd spot Andrew's Spitfire. She tried to shut out all distractions, including Graeme pacing back and forth behind her chair.
"I think I've got him, sir," she said eagerly as the trace signal came up.
"Range?" asked Graeme; she heard him moving in behind her chair and suppressed a flinch at his proximity.
"Thirty miles, bearing two four zero, height six hundred."
"Right, lock onto him."
Sam leaned forward and flicked the necessary switch. "There," she said, feeling satisfied.
"Well done, Stewart."
Sam couldn't help grinning as she glanced across at Corporal Holdsworth, then up at Graeme. She'd be the first to admit she was pleased as punch.
When Graeme dismissed them for a tea break, she went out to find Andrew, knowing he'd be back by now.
She watched the mechanic, who was checking the plane over, and didn't hear Andrew approaching her until he spoke. "Hello, again."
"Oh, hello, it's you. You startled me."
"Is it my imagination, or is everyone a bit jumpy around here?" he asked.
"We're all on edge, it's true," she admitted quietly. "There's just so much at stake." She glanced away from his intent expression. "Some people say the Luftwaffe's finished, that they're no match for our boys, and I want to believe it, but I don't think it's true." She looked at the mechanic, who had moved out of earshot. "I can feel them out there, like a great big shadow, getting nearer every day." She took a deep breath. "Well, I just wonder how we're ever going to stand up to them."
"You sighted me today," Andrew pointed out, smiling.
"Well, we're getting there," she agreed.
"I'll make it more difficult for you tonight," he promised, his smile broadening.
"It's wonderful the way you're helping us. I bet you can't wait to join a squadron, though?"
Andrew gave her a wry smile. "I want to get out there, yes." He laughed slightly. "But I'll get my chance."
"I think you're very brave," Sam told him. She didn't want him to get big-headed, but she couldn't help admitting her admiration for him and his fellow pilots.
He smiled at her, then began to walk away from the plane, and she kept pace with him.
"Is it true, what you said? About your father being a policeman?" she asked.
"Yes, why do you ask?" Andrew sounded puzzled by the question.
"Just wondered, that's all," she answered, aware that this probably sounded feeble.
"Just wondered?" he repeated doubtfully.
"Yes," she said, trying to reassure him.
He nodded, but she sensed he didn't really believe her, and his next words backed that up.
"There wasn't something you wanted to tell me, was there?" Sam looked at him, but he wasn't looking at her. "We were interrupted at lunch," he added.
"No," she said quickly.
"For Heaven's sake, Sam, what is it?" he asked urgently, turning to look at her now. "Why are you so afraid?"
"I'm not," she said in quick denial.
He looked at her a moment longer, then turned away, his eyes sweeping the fields surrounding them. "I can feel it here. Everyone seems to be so – nervous. And it isn't just Jerry," Andrew added, glancing back at her.
Sam didn't say anything, and Andrew went on in a serious tone, "You were telling me about your friend – Lucy, wasn't it?"
Sam took a deep breath, then looked at him. "Yes."
"You didn't tell me how she died," he said.
She bit her lip. "Well – well, it was horrible. She committed suicide."
"Brighton. She was my best friend." Sam swallowed before continuing, "I felt terrible when it happened. It was all so wrong." She could feel tears prickling at her eyelids and hoped she wouldn't cry.
She shook her head. "The way she was bullied and pushed." She closed her eyes and swallowed, then looked up into Andrew's concerned face. "I shouldn't talk about it. It doesn't matter." She began to move away from him.
"Of course it matters," Andrew said persistently, moving after her. "What do you mean about her being pushed?"
Sam glanced away, then back at him. "It was just a manner of speaking," she said, sure she sounded as unconvincing as she felt.
Andrew closed his eyes for a moment, then said, "You were asking me about my father. Is there something you want me to say to him? Something – he ought to know?"
"No," Sam said quickly, shaking her head. She knew she should never have brought the subject up, no matter how much guilt she felt at not having done more to help Lucy. She could get into trouble – they both could – for discussing it. "I was just interested, that's all."
Andrew looked at her and she knew he didn't really believe her.
"Lucy hated it here," she said, knowing that was true, and not just the official line. "The work was too much for her, and the waiting. In the end she cracked. We're not meant to talk about it; I shouldn't have mentioned it at all."
She glanced over Andrew's shoulder and caught sight of Keller watching her from the window of his office. "I'm sorry, I have to go." She hurried back inside, aware that Andrew probably thought she was either barmy or a liar. She despised herself for lying to him and for not having the courage to do more for her friend.
Once she was back inside, she wasn't surprised to find Keller waiting for her. "My office, Stewart. Now."
His tone was curt and Sam knew she was going to be reprimanded, possibly even punished.
"You were talking about her, weren't you, Sergeant Stewart?" Keller asked once he was seated behind his desk and Sam stood in front of it, her hands clasped behind her back. "I saw the two of you together for a second time." Sam looked at him, wondering how he knew that Lucy had been the topic of conversation. "I'll be talking to Foyle later, so you might as well tell me the truth."
"We did mention her, sir," she admitted quietly.
"He asked me about her."
"And what did you say?"
"I didn't say anything," Sam insisted. She took a deep breath, crossing her fingers behind her back. "That's the truth, sir."
"At ease, Sergeant," Keller said, getting to his feet. He moved around his desk and perched on the edge of it, his arms crossed over his chest. "Look, we all felt as bad about Lucy as you did." He looked up at her. "But you have to see it in context. I told you at the time, we cannot allow anything to get in the way of our work, or more importantly, our working as a team. Ever since Lucy did – what she did, morale has been shot to pieces, and to be frank, it's been reflected in our results."
Sam bit her lip nervously. She hated the weaselly way he spoke of Lucy's suicide, as if mentioning it by name would render it contagious, or something.
"That's the main reason why Pilot Officer Foyle is here," Keller continued. "If we keep going over old ground, it'll just make things worse."
"I do know that, sir," Sam said.
"Look, I know it's been tough on you," Keller said, trying, it seemed to Sam, to sound compassionate and understanding. "You were the closest to her. And that's why I've come to a decision that I hope will help you get over it."
Sam felt her stomach clench with nervousness. "What decision?" she asked, hoping she didn't sound as uneasy as she felt.
"I've had a request from Ventnor," he told her, getting up and moving back around his desk. "They're one man short, and need an experienced plotter. I've recommended you." He sat down. "You're to be transferred with immediate effect from tomorrow."
"Ventnor?" Sam said disbelievingly.
"The Isle of Wight," Keller said jovially. "Very much the front line."
"But – Sir, I'm happy here," she said. She had no desire to go to the Isle of Wight, as it would put her so much further away from her parents, and she knew they would worry even more about her being there than here, near Hastings.
"Well, I don't think you are," Keller said. "I think a change of scene will do you good."
"You're moving me because you're afraid I'll talk," Sam said, feeling tears of anger prickle at the back of her eyelids.
"That's all, Sergeant," Keller said. "I'm moving you, for the reasons I've just told you. Dismissed."
Sam straightened up, bit back any further protests, and then said, "Yes, sir." She turned on her heel and hurried out, determined to get a message to Andrew's father somehow.
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
Foyle meets Sam for the first time, then she and Andrew are both arrested.
At that moment Andrew's father was sitting in his office with his friend and colleague, Hugh Reid.
"You're looking tired, Christopher," Hugh observed.
"That's 'cos I am," Foyle admitted. "It's this looting business. We don't seem to be getting anywhere with it."
"Then why not come for a drink?" Hugh suggested. "I'm buying."
Foyle's face brightened. "Oh, make a nice change, Hugh," he teased, suppressing a smile at his friend's expense.
"Liquid inspiration," Hugh suggested.
"All right. Good idea."
"Is Andrew home tonight?" Hugh asked as Foyle got up and collected his hat from the coat stand.
"No, he's on some sort of operation or other." They moved to the door and Hugh stepped out, Foyle switching off the light as he followed his friend.
"Let's get some supper as well, then."
Foyle raised an eyebrow. "Won't your wife mind?"
Hugh shook his head. "She's taken the girls to visit her mother before they have to go back to school next week."
"Ah, grass widower," Foyle said, smirking a little.
Hugh smiled at his friend's remark as he led the way down the corridor and out into the evening sunshine.
"Plume of Feathers?" Hugh asked.
"Let's try the Royal Oak," Foyle suggested.
"All right." They climbed into Foyle's Wolseley, and he drove out of the yard at the back of the station, heading up the hill. It would, he thought, do him good to have supper and a drink with Hugh.
Sam hadn't had a chance to speak to Andrew after her interview with Keller – she'd been sent straight to the ops room to prepare for the night exercise, and Andrew, of course, was out with his Spitfire and the mechanics. She wondered if she could give him a letter to pass on to his father – perhaps slip it into his pocket so he'd find it after he'd left The Manor. She now felt quite strongly that she'd been wrong to go along with Keller's claims that Lucy had killed herself because she couldn't hack the work. She wasn't sure if the Wing Commander knew that Lucy had been pregnant or not, but it didn't matter if he had known – what Graeme had done to Lucy was very wrong, and Sam felt she was in the wrong for helping to cover it up.
She forced herself to put the matter of a letter to Mr Foyle out of her mind during the exercise – it wouldn't do to be distracted, and put the test in jeopardy. Graeme had put Jane Holdsworth on the radar screen, and she was sitting at the radio bench behind, ready to talk to Andrew if necessary.
"Bearing three, zero, zero. Range twenty-eight miles," Jane announced a few minutes later.
Graeme nodded, looking pleased. Sam relaxed slightly against her chair, until Jane spoke up again. "Sir, I'm not getting any IFF response."
"What?" Graeme said sharply.
"There's no trace, sir," Jane said urgently. She looked up anxiously at Graeme.
"If his IFF isn't switched on, he'll be shot out of the sky." He turned around to Sam. "See if you can get him on the radio."
She swallowed, then leaned forward to the microphone, flicking the switch that would allow her to send to Andrew's plane. "Base to Target Spitfire, Base to Target Spitfire. Do you read me, over?"
"This is Target Spitfire to Base," Andrew's voice came back over tannoy, rather crackly and indistinct. There was a lot of noise in the background; then they heard him cry out, "Jesus! What the hell's going on? I'm coming under fire!"
Graeme snatched the radio microphone up off the bench. "Foyle! You're not transmitting an IFF signal. Put your bloody parrot on, over!"
Sam looked up at Graeme anxiously, and he turned around as Jane reported, "Sir, he's losing height."
"Spitfire to Base, IFF is on! Repeat, IFF is on!" Andrew shouted back at them.
Everyone was staring at the radar screen in front of Jane as Andrew called, "Base?"
"Height, six hundred feet," Jane said.
"We still have no signal, Foyle, over," Graeme said, as Sam watched anxiously from her seat. Her stomach was churning and her mouth was so dry that she had to swallow hard.
"I've lost him, sir!" Jane said with alarm.
"Base to Target Spitfire, Base to Target Spitfire. Come in, please. Do you read me, over?" Graeme sounded as anxious as Sam felt, as he repeated, "Base to Target Spitfire, Base to Target Spitfire. Come in, please. Do you read me, over?"
The only sound from the tannoy speaker was a crackling and hissing, and Sam hoped that she wasn't going to be sick.
Jane looked at her screen and shook her head. "I'm sorry, sir. He's gone. He's not there any more."
Sam shoved her fist against her mouth to stop herself from crying out in horror.
"All in all, I'd say you were very fortunate, Foyle," Graeme said, as Andrew stood in the Wing Commander's office, facing the two men. "At least you're still in one piece."
"I don't quite see it that way, sir," Andrew answered, looking from Graeme to the seated Keller. "What happened to my IFF?"
"It malfunctioned," Graeme said, shaking his head a little. "These things happen. I'm very sorry." He walked forward a few paces. "Engine vibration probably broke up some of the carbon elements in the unit, with the result that we didn't receive an identifying pulse. Nor did anyone else, so naturally it was assumed you were an enemy aircraft, and you came under fire."
"They bloody nearly shot me down," Andrew said angrily. He wasn't going to admit this to Graeme or Keller, but he'd been frightened half to death the night before.
"The fact they didn't does you credit," Graeme said, his tone reassuring.
"Yes, sir." Andrew struggled to retain control of his anger, knowing he shouldn't push his luck. He glanced at Keller, who was sitting silently at his desk. "Well, as soon as the ack-ack fire started, I realised I had to get down as fast as I could. I was lucky there was a bit of a moon. I put down in a farm about six miles away."
"How come you lost radio contact?" asked Keller.
"I knocked myself out," Andrew admittedly, feeling a little embarrassed to say so. "Someone had put a haystack in the field."
"But you're unhurt?" asked Graeme.
"Well, I bruised my head, but otherwise I'm okay."
"You did very, very well. No one could have done better," Graeme said, and Andrew got the impression that the other man was trying to soothe him, almost as if he was determined that Andrew should believe it had been nothing but an unfortunate incident. But he wasn't convinced. "If you ask me, you deserve a spot of leave, forty-eight hours."
"I'm still puzzled, sir," Andrew said. "The parrot was working when I took off. It'd been fine throughout the day."
"Well, I explained," Graeme said, looking earnestly at him.
"You don't think it might have been tampered with?" Andrew asked.
"What are you suggesting, Foyle?" asked Keller, his tones measured and reasonable.
"Who would want to do a thing like that?" asked Graeme.
"I don't know," Andrew admitted. He glanced at Keller. "It was just a thought."
"A crazy one," insisted Graeme. "Maybe that bump on the head has affected you more than you think."
"All right, Foyle, that's enough. You're dismissed." Keller gave him a level look.
Andrew turned and headed to the door as Graeme called after him, "You get some rest."
Andrew had appeared at The Manor just after breakfast on the morning following his night exercise, and Sam was so relieved that she nearly burst into tears at the sight of him, weary and dishevelled, walking in the front door. While she wasn't attracted to him, she was fond of him, as if he were a slightly annoying younger brother, and of course she hadn't wanted him to be hurt or killed. Andrew hadn't seen her on the staircase, and she didn't get the chance to speak to him because Group Captain Graeme met him in the hall and immediately took him off to see the Wing Commander.
Sam had made up her mind what she was going to do. She had been told to go into Hastings and take the train from there on the first stage of her journey to Ventnor. No one was accompanying her, so she'd decided that she was going to find Andrew's father to tell him all about what had happened to Lucy.
Leaving the Wing Commander's office, Andrew strode out, intending to go and find Sam to tell her about his suspicions about his plane and the IFF beacon. He spotted Corporal Holdsworth in the corridor and called out to her,
"Excuse me; you're Jane, aren't you?"
"Yes," she answered, smiling at him.
"Have you seen Sam?"
Jane's smile faded as she looked away from him. "She's gone."
"Gone where?" asked Andrew, puzzled.
Jane glanced up at him. "I don't know. She's been transferred."
Andrew frowned. "You mean she's gone permanently?" he asked, disbelievingly. Without even saying goodbye? he thought, hurt.
Jane gave a shrug. "I suppose so."
"When did this happen?" He couldn't make sense of the situation.
"It was all very sudden," Jane said. "She was packing her bags yesterday evening, just before you took off."
Andrew scowled, then summoned a smile. "Thanks."
Jane nodded, then went off, and Andrew resolved that he would go and see his father as soon as he got into Hastings. Something weird was definitely going on around The Manor, and he reckoned that if anyone could get to the bottom of it, his father was the man to do so.
Upon arriving in Hastings, Andrew went directly to the police station and hurried inside, snatching his cap off as he approached the reception counter. He rang the bell hastily and hoped someone would come quickly.
"Hello? Can I help you?" asked a voice somewhere behind him.
Andrew turned and saw a tall man limping down the stairs towards him. "I'm looking for DCS Foyle," he explained quickly.
The man nodded to him. "You're Andrew."
"Yes," he agreed, slightly bewildered.
"I thought you might be," said the other man. "I'm Paul Milner. I work with your father. You've got your Wings, congratulations."
"Thanks," Andrew said, hoping this Milner would tell him where his father was.
He glanced back at the reception counter as Milner continued, "I wish I could be in your shoes."
"Not at the moment," Andrew said, glancing away.
"Why? Is something wrong?" Milner became all policeman: his attention focused and his expression serious.
"Apart from someone trying to kill me. No, I'm fine," Andrew said, trying to make a joke out of it as he fidgeted with his cap.
"Look, I shouldn't have said that," Andrew said quickly. "I just need to talk to my father. Do you have any idea when he'll be in?"
"Well, it could be any time," Milner answered. "He's gone to interview a potential witness. You're welcome to wait for him here."
"No, I'm going home. Tell him he can find me there, will you?" He darted towards the doors.
"Yes. Are you sure I can't help?" Milner asked, looking anxious.
Andrew glanced back. "No, thanks."
"I'll see you again," Milner said.
"I hope so," Andrew agreed, pausing by the doors. He put his cap back on and hurried outside, squeezing past a uniformed man in the doorway.
He'd only taken a few steps away from the building when a car drew up alongside him, and a man got out. "Pilot Officer Foyle?"
"Yes?" Andrew looked at him in puzzlement, not recognising him.
"My name's Henderson, I'm with Special Branch." The man pulled an ID card from his pocket and showed it to Andrew. "Could you get in the car, please?"
"Why?" asked Andrew, baffled.
"I'd prefer not to talk here, sir. If you could just get in?" Henderson answered, gesturing at the car with his thumb.
"No, sorry, I'm meeting my father," Andrew said, gesturing down the street.
"We'll contact your father in due course, Mr Foyle," Henderson said, his tone reasonable. "Will you please get in the car." He gestured again.
"No, I won't!" Andrew answered crossly.
"Andrew Foyle, you're suspected of conspiring to assist the enemy in contravention of the Defence Regulations," Henderson said as the man who'd been driving, and who looked more like a thug than a policeman, climbed out of the driver's side of the car. Andrew glanced across at him, taking in the man's aggressive stance as Henderson continued, "And I'm placing you under arrest. Now get in." The words were an order, and Andrew obeyed feeling numb and bewildered by the turn of events.
Foyle arrived back at the station after a very productive interview with a witness who had been quite positive that he'd seen a man behaving suspiciously in Maize Hill on the night of the raid and looting. He felt quite cheerful that the case finally seemed to be moving at last, but his good mood diminished when an anxious-looking Milner met him in the corridor.
"Sir, your son was here."
"Andrew?" asked Foyle absently (after all, he only had one son).
"Yes, sir. He seemed very anxious to see you, said something about someone trying to kill him."
Foyle's eyebrows rose. "Really? Not some girl's father, I take it?"
Milner smirked a little. "I don't think so, sir. Actually he seemed quite seriously worried, and I got the impression it was urgent. He said he'd see you at home."
Foyle sighed. "All right, Milner, thank you. I'd better go and see what it's all about."
"Any luck with that witness, sir?"
"Yes. I'll tell you all about it when I get back."
Milner nodded and Foyle headed back out to the car. He wondered what on earth Andrew could have meant when he'd said he thought someone was trying to kill him.
Driving swiftly back across town, he kept his eyes open for his son, but didn't spot any sign of an RAF blue uniform. He parked a short distance down the street, then hurried up to the house and let himself in.
"Andrew?" He called, but there was no response to indicate anyone was home. He moved swiftly from room to room, only to confirm that wherever Andrew was, he wasn't yet back at 31 Steep Lane. Puzzled, he hung up his hat, then went to make himself a cup of tea while he waited for the boy to arrive.
Sam arrived in Hastings before lunch. She was aware that she only had a short time in which to find and speak to Andrew's father, and she went straight to the police station, intending to ask for Mr Foyle there. When she arrived she saw Andrew just coming out, and she was about to cross the street to join him when a car pulled up alongside him. A man climbed out and spoke to Andrew; Sam was too far away to hear the exchange, but she saw the man showing Andrew an identity card of some sort; then a second man got out of the car and began to move around it. Andrew was looking angry and bewildered, and Sam was just wondering whether to go and see if he were all right when he gave the other man a resigned look before climbing into the back of the car. Sam glanced at the police station, then hurried away, convinced that wherever Mr Foyle might be, he was not there.
As she set out, Sam wished she had remembered to take notice of the name of the street on which Andrew lived when he had stopped there to get the picnic lunch from his father's house a few days earlier. All that she could definitely recall was that the house had a curved white façade, so she tramped up and down the streets of Hastings, looking for such a place.
Just when she was beginning to despair of ever finding it, she saw the house on Steep Lane. She hesitated for a few moments as she stood on the opposite side of the street, then she straightened her spine, lifted her chin, and strode across to march up the steps and knock on the door.
It was opened swiftly, and a man with greying, curly hair and an alert expression in his blue-grey eyes stood in the hall looking at her with interest.
"Mr Foyle?" Sam asked. He didn't look much like Andrew, being a few inches shorter and of a stockier build than his son.
"Yes?" he said, expectantly.
"Good afternoon, sir. I'm Sergeant Stewart. I've been working with your son, Andrew."
"Come in," Foyle said immediately.
Sam stepped inside, then turned to see Foyle giving the street a swift, sweeping glance, before he closed the door.
"Do come through," he said politely; she could sense anxiety beneath his courtesy, and she knew that she'd done the right thing in coming to him, even though she could get into a lot of trouble if she were found out.
"Thank you, sir." She stepped into the sitting room at his gesture.
"What can I do for you, Sergeant Stewart?" He indicated the sofa, and Sam sat down, smoothing her skirt over her knees as Foyle took a seat in the chair opposite.
"It's about Andrew, sir. I'm afraid he's in rather a spot of trouble."
"So I gathered," Foyle said, his dry tone failing to hide the concern in his voice. "He turned up at the station this morning, looking for me urgently. My son tends to come to me only when he's in trouble. But when I got back here, he still hadn't arrived."
Sam took a deep breath. "What I'm about to tell you could, or more probably would, get me locked up for breaking the Official Secrets Act if anyone found out I'd told you. But Andrew's a nice boy, and he doesn't deserve to be arrested."
"He's been arrested?" Foyle asked, sounding startled. Sam nodded. "Bloody hell!" He flushed as soon as the words were out. "I beg your pardon, Sergeant."
"That's all right, sir. And yes, I believe that the man who just stopped him in the street outside the police station and drove him away was arresting him."
"What the hell's going on?"
"I think, although I'm not absolutely sure, it's because he was asking questions about Lucy Smith, one of the other plotters. My best friend, actually," Sam explained. "I let slip that she'd died, and Andrew was very curious about the circumstances."
Foyle grimaced, shaking his head. "Curiosity's a family trait, unfortunately." He rubbed a hand over his face. "I take it your friend didn't die in a raid?"
"No." Sam bit her lip before continuing. "She committed suicide. Jumped under a train at Brighton."
"Good God." He looked appalled. "Do you know why?"
"Yes, sir. I don't think anyone else knows that I know, but Lucy always confided in me. I think it's because I'm a vicar's daughter." She shook her head slightly, realising she was getting side-tracked. "Anyway, she found out she was pregnant, and when she told the man responsible, he told her to 'get rid of it', and threatened to get her thrown out of the WAAF."
Foyle uttered a wordless growl, his disapproval plain in his face. "One of the pilots?" he asked, and Sam wondered if he was thinking of his flirtatious son, or just the reputation of the 'flyboys' in general.
"No sir, worse than that."
"An officer?" asked Foyle, looking disgusted.
"Group Captain Graeme," Sam told him.
"That's a very serious accusation, Sergeant Stewart."
"Yes, sir, I know."
"Did Lucy tell you?" he asked.
Sam shook her head. "She didn't need to. I saw them together – twice. The Group Captain was not nearly as discreet as he ought to have been." She pulled a face. "He used to have sexual relations with her up against a wall. Lucy told me that he'd told her that she couldn't get pregnant if they did it that way." Foyle looked as disgusted as Sam felt about this lie. "And besides, he'd already tried his luck with me, before he moved on to Lucy."
"He did?" Foyle's attentive expression sharpened further at Sam's revelation. "What did you say to him to discourage him?"
"It wasn't so much what I said, as what I did, that put him off."
"What did you do?" He looked thoroughly curious now.
"I kneed him in the groin."
Foyle let out a sharp bark of laughter, then looked apologetic. "I'm sorry, it's not really a laughing matter. I can believe, however, that such an action conveyed your refusal admirably."
Sam smirked a little. "Yes, sir. Of course, he couldn't risk reporting me, because, as I made clear to him, I would have explained exactly how and where he'd touched me in order to provoke that response." She sobered again. "Unfortunately, he's neither forgotten, nor forgiven me, for rejecting him. I'm not sure if he thinks he's punishing me for that by having Andrew arrested, or whether it was Wing Commander Keller's idea, because he knew that Andrew and I had been talking about Lucy. Her death's a forbidden subject."
At Foyle's enquiring look, his left eyebrow arching upwards, she elaborated. "The Group Captain was almost certainly aware that Andrew was very interested in me." She felt a blush heating her cheeks and ducked her head, silently cursing her fair complexion.
"I got the impression, from one or two things my son has said, that you are not as interested in Andrew as he is in you?" Foyle said, his expression conveying his awareness of the delicacy of his question.
Sam shook her head. "Your son's a nice boy, and will be a fine young man, I'm sure, but he's much too young for me."
He gave her a surprised look. "Too young? You and he are of a similar age, surely?"
"Andrew and I are the same age, chronologically," she explained earnestly. "But, like most young men his age, he’s rather immature emotionally." She bit her lip, feeling rather embarrassed as she saw Foyle looking at her with a thoughtful expression. "Sorry, sir. You're not too offended, are you?"
He shook his head. "Far from it – I quite agree with you. Although I suspect his experiences during this war will mature him a good deal."
Before Foyle could ask any further questions, they were interrupted by a violent knocking at the front door.
"Excuse me," Foyle said, getting to his feet. He somehow doubted that was Andrew; after all, his son had a key.
Sam nodded and he made his way to the door where a man, whom Foyle instantly mentally characterised as a spiv, stood on his doorstep.
"Detective Chief Superintendent Foyle?"
The man drew a card from his inner pocket. "The name's Henderson, sir, Special Branch. And I've got a warrant to search this house."
"Show me," demanded Foyle.
Henderson gave him a smug grin, then drew the document from his pocket and unfolded it. While Foyle was still reading it, Henderson, and the three men with him, pushed past Foyle and began moving through the house.
Foyle hurried into the sitting room, where Sam was standing at attention, looking very nervous as Henderson stared at her.
"Where's my son?" Foyle asked Henderson.
"Your son is currently being held under arrest, sir."
"Your son is suspected of being in possession of certain documents of such a nature that their dissemination would be a breach of the Defence Regulations."
"Total rubbish," Foyle said crossly, glancing across at Sam, then back at Henderson. Foyle was wondering if he could get her out of the house without Henderson objecting. "I want to see him." He hoped that, if he could get Henderson to take him to see Andrew, Sam could be on her way.
"I'm afraid that won't be possible, sir, until we've had a chance to question him," answered Henderson promptly. He looked into a drawer full of papers that one of his men had taken from Foyle's desk, then nodded. The man carried it out.
"Where is he?" demanded Foyle.
"That information is classified," Henderson stated, his tone smug. "I don't need to tell you, sir, how serious, how extremely serious, this offence is." He ignored Foyle's glare. "I'll report back just as soon as there's anything to say."
Before Foyle could answer, Henderson turned to Sam. "I'm afraid you'll have to come with us, too, Sergeant."
"Why?" Foyle asked immediately, before Sam could even open her mouth.
Henderson looked back at him, eyebrows raised. "I don't have to explain, or justify, myself to you, sir. I can arrest anyone whom I suspect of being in collusion with Pilot Officer Foyle – even you."
"Don't be ridiculous," Foyle said instantly, before he could even consider the wisdom of antagonising this man.
Henderson smirked, then turned back to Sam. "Come along, miss."
Sam threw Foyle a beseeching look, but he knew that for the moment his hands were tied. He shook his head. "Don't worry, Sergeant, I'll sort this out," he promised, hoping that he could do just that. He had no desire to see either Andrew or Sam tried for breaking the Defence Regulations.
He saw her swallow before she straightened her back and gave him a quick nod, causing him to admire her pluck. Then she followed Henderson out of the house as the last of the Special Branch men made their way down the steps.
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
Foyle tries to find out where Andrew and Sam have been taken, while they are interrogated by Special Branch.
Thanks, as ever, to my beta, dancesabove, for her input.
Shortly afterwards, Foyle was back in the station, talking on the telephone to a friend who worked in Whitehall, trying desperately to find out just what was going on.
"Richard, Richard, all he told me was that he's involved in some tests on the South Coast. Yes, well, of course it's secret. If it wasn't secret, I wouldn't be calling you, would I?" he asked, rolling his eyes in exasperation as his friend tried to fob him off. He glanced up as his office door opened and Milner came in. "You're in Whitehall, you must know!"
Richard protested further, and Foyle said crossly, "I just want to know where he is! Look, my son in possession of secret documents is obviously ridiculous, it's obviously a mistake." He listened a moment longer as Richard reluctantly agreed to try to find out where Andrew was and promised to ring back in a few hours. "Please do. Thank you." He banged the phone down grumpily, then turned his attention to Milner.
"I can't find anyone who knows anything about a Henderson at Special Branch," the younger man said. "Although these days that's not surprising, they've got so many different divisions."
Foyle nodded, biting the inside of his cheek as he tried to work out who else he could lean on for information.
"I've got a friend at Scotland Yard," Milner went on. "I'll get on to him, see if he can dig anything up."
Foyle nodded jerkily, closing his eyes. "Yeah, thank you. Well, you shouldn't get involved in any of this."
Milner smiled. "That's all right, sir, I'll risk it. Andrew seemed like a nice boy."
Foyle nodded. "And Sergeant Stewart seems a nice young woman whom I'm quite sure doesn't deserve to be locked up any more than Andrew does." He got to his feet. "I need to get going. Oh, do me a favour? Find out anything you can about a Lucy Smith who died in Brighton after jumping under a train." Milner winced, and Foyle nodded. "According to my information, she was pregnant at the time. Check with the police in Brighton and find out who her parents are – they may well live there. If they do, get an address, because we'll need to interview them."
Milner was making hasty notes in his pocket notebook. "Who was Lucy Smith?" he asked.
"She was a WAAF who worked with Sergeant Stewart in this place where Andrew's based. It seems one of the officers got her pregnant, and as far as I can work out, the senior staff then colluded to cover the matter up."
"Where will you be, sir?"
"I'm going out to Lyminster to find Sergeant Stewart's parents. Andrew told me her father's a vicar there, and I'm hoping I can get some information out of them about where their daughter's been working."
"All right, sir. Will you be coming back here later?"
"I don't know. Probably. But don't hang around here until all hours if I'm not back very quickly. Whatever information you find out, just leave me a note on my desk. Go home at a sensible time, if you can."
"Yes, sir." Milner gave him a nod before letting himself out of the office, and Foyle followed shortly afterwards. He spoke briefly to Sergeant Rivers on the front desk, and Hugh Reid caught up with him there.
"Christopher, any news?"
"Not a thing," Foyle answered, moving towards the doors.
Hugh walked beside him. "Same here. I called the Commissioner. I asked a couple of questions and the world caved in on my head. Said it was none of my damn business, and more or less read me the entire Official Secrets Act."
"Well, thank you for trying," Foyle said. He hadn't really expected the Commissioner to help, but he was ready to clutch at any straws, and he'd jumped at Hugh's offer to contact him.
"Andrew definitely said someone tried to kill him?" Hugh asked, still sounding incredulous at the idea. "He's young; he could be imagining it."
"He's not that imaginative," Foyle answered as they stepped out through the doors that led into the station's public reception area.
"Well, he'll turn up in due course. Whatever he's supposed to have done, they can't keep him locked up for good. I don't think there's much more we can do," Hugh said, sounding resigned.
"We'll see," Foyle said.
As he moved towards the outer door, Hugh said anxiously, "Just be careful. I don't want you arrested as well."
"Yes, yes, yes," Foyle said impatiently. He knew Hugh meant well, but he was far more worried about Andrew, and Sam Stewart, than about himself.
"This is ridiculous," Andrew said, trying to stay calm. "The whole thing is completely crazy." He was sitting in a detention cell at The Manor. Henderson sat on the other side of the small table that had been brought in, and the Wing Commander was also in the cell.
"Have you any idea of the seriousness of the charges against you?" asked Keller, pacing to and fro behind Henderson's chair.
"Yes, Mr Henderson has told me."
"We could be talking treason," Keller observed.
"We're talking nonsense," exclaimed Andrew, beginning again to get exasperated.
"These documents were discovered missing at oh six hundred hours this morning." Henderson pulled some papers from a folder on the table in front of him.
"They contain a detailed analysis of the most recent tests made on the radar system at this station." Andrew glanced up at Keller and saw he was watching closely. "They could give the enemy vital information about the strengths and weaknesses of our entire costal defence," Henderson said.
"I didn't take them," Andrew said flatly, shaking his head slightly.
Henderson put the papers back in the folder. "They were found in your locker," he said emphatically.
"Well, somebody must have put them there!" protested Andrew. He couldn't believe he was even having this ridiculous conversation.
"Who would do that?" asked Keller.
"You tell me!" Andrew snapped, staring down at the table.
"Tell us about Bruce Leighton-Morris, Mr Foyle," Henderson said.
Andrew lifted his head. "What?" He frowned, baffled by the sudden change of subject.
"Bruce Leighton-Morris," repeated Henderson. "Your friend from Oxford."
"Why do you want to know?" asked Andrew.
"When did you last see him?" asked Henderson.
"A couple of days ago. He drove me down here," Andrew told him. He frowned down at the table. "And we had lunch." He glanced up at Keller, then back at Henderson. "What's Bruce got to do with this? He's down here to make a film about fuel conservation."
Henderson closed his eyes. "Why did he give you money?"
"He didn't!" protested Andrew angrily.
"I was watching, Mr Foyle. Mr Leighton-Morris has been under surveillance for some time now. You met him. He produced his wallet."
"He paid for lunch. He took out his wallet and paid for lunch!" Andrew picked up his cigarette, which had been burning in an ashtray beside him, and took a drag to try to calm his nerves.
"Don't play the innocent with us, Mr Foyle," Henderson said, his tone more menacing now. "Communist Party of Great Britain, that's where you met him. You were in the Communist Party at Oxford." He opened another file and looked down at the papers inside. "You joined in the summer of 1938."
"For heaven's sake," Andrew protested. He shook his head. "It was nothing. It was – " He glanced up at Keller, then back at Henderson. "It was like a club. After Spain a lot of us felt – The Communists were fighting the Nazis before we were!" He looked up at Keller again, growing angry, then looked away. "Anyway, I only went to half a dozen meetings. I lost interest."
"You kept your membership," Keller observed.
"I'd forgotten all about it!" Andrew exclaimed.
"We hadn't," Henderson told him.
"Look. You can't keep me here. I want to speak to my father, or at least to my commanding officer. This is crazy!"
"You're not seeing anyone, Mr Foyle, until you start answering some questions."
"This has got nothing to do with me!" Andrew said, really angry, and quite frightened now. He looked up at Keller. "He knows!"
"I'll tell you what I know, Foyle," Keller said, taking his hands from his trouser pockets, then leaning on the table. "A number of extremely sensitive documents have gone missing and have been found in your possession. You turn out to be a self-confessed member of the Communist Party, and are seen taking money from a prominent Communist agitator, who has since disappeared."
His tone was as menacing as Henderson's, and Andrew suppressed a shudder of despair as he realised that neither man was inclined to listen to him, or take his protests seriously.
"Now," said Henderson. "Let's start from the beginning, shall we?"
Andrew looked up at him, wondering how on earth he was going to get out of this fix – especially when his father didn't even know where he was.
Foyle was relieved that the roads were relatively quiet, so it didn't take him too long to drive out to Lyminster. The village was fairly small and there was only one Anglican church in the place, so he drove straight there and parked outside the clearly signposted vicarage alongside.
A man a few years older than himself, with thinning grey hair and large, round-framed glasses, peered at him from the front door in answer to Foyle's knock.
"You have a daughter named Samantha in the WAAF?" Foyle asked, wanting to be absolutely sure he had the right man before he went any further.
"Yes. Has something happened to Samantha?" He frowned. "But no, the RAF would send someone – a senior officer, if it had."
"My name's Foyle, and I'm a police officer. May I come in?"
The vicar put a hand to his mouth in obvious dismay, then pulled the door open wider. "Come in, Mr Foyle."
Foyle stepped inside, taking off his hat as he did so, then waited while the vicar shut the front door and moved past him in the hallway.
"You had better come through to my study," the older man said.
They made their way along the hall, and the vicar opened a door at the far end, gesturing for Foyle to precede him. The study was much as he had expected: there were bookcases packed with volumes lining three of the walls, while the fourth was taken up by a large window looking out over a pleasant garden basking in the August sunshine.
"Should I call my wife down?" Reverend Stewart asked.
"Sam is alive and well," Foyle said quickly, taking a seat on the near side of the desk at the vicar's gesture. He waited until Sam's father had seated himself before continuing. "I won't deny that she's in a spot of bother, though not of her own making. I cannot tell you about it – as you know, her work for the RAF is confidential – but I do need your assistance if I'm going to be able to help her."
Reverend Stewart frowned. "I'm not sure I follow you, Mr Foyle."
Foyle took a deep breath. "Sam has been working with my son, Andrew, who's a Pilot Officer. She came to see me because she was concerned about an incident involving a friend of hers, and she couldn't take up the matter with the senior staff. Unfortunately both Sam and my son have been arrested on trumped-up charges, and I cannot find out where they are. I'm hoping you can tell me, so that I can go and sort things out."
The vicar looked bewildered, and Foyle sympathised with him, but he sincerely hoped the man wouldn't waste too much time in asking questions that Foyle couldn't - or didn't dare to - retort.
"Sam's a good girl, Mr Foyle, and her mother and I were very proud of her when she volunteered for the WAAF. Of course, we would have preferred she stay safely at home, but she insisted on doing 'her bit' for the war. She’s a very intelligent young woman, as well as patriotic, and we saw that she would be wasting her God-given talents if she remained here, knitting socks and balaclavas for His Majesty's forces. I can give you the address to which we've been sending our letters – will that help?"
Foyle nodded, swallowing down his sigh of relief. "Yes sir, thank you."
He watched as the vicar opened a drawer of his desk and took out his address book. Foyle pulled out his notebook and scribbled down the details Sam's father provided.
"Don't worry, Mr Stewart," Foyle said in a soothing tone. "I'll see this all gets sorted out, and I'll make sure Sam telephones you at the earliest opportunity, once it is."
"Thank you, Mr Foyle." The vicar got to his feet and Foyle did the same. "I won't keep you any longer, as I sense you're anxious to go and help Sam, and I'm quite eager that you do so. I don't think I will mention any of this to my wife. She's not very well, unfortunately, and I don't want to worry her unduly."
Foyle nodded his understanding. "That's probably best, sir." He followed the vicar back to the front door, shook hands, then made his way rapidly to the car.
As he set off back to Hastings, he revised his initial plan to go dashing straight off to The Manor, the place where Sam and Andrew were working, according to the address Sam's father had given him. Instead, he decided to go back to the station and find out whether Milner had uncovered any information about Lucy Smith. It would give him a greater advantage, he felt, to know as much as possible about Sam's young friend before he confronted the top brass at The Manor. Especially if, as Sam had intimated, they were colluding in covering up the reasons for Lucy's death.
Sam sat at a table in a formerly unused room of the converted stable block of The Manor; she'd been brought here from Mr Foyle's home after her arrest, and left to stew for forty minutes before anyone had come to speak to her.
"If you own up to your part in all of this, Stewart, things will go much easier for you. The top brass'll be more inclined to treat you leniently, especially with you being a girl." Dewson, Henderson's colleague and the man whom Sam had seen driving Andrew away earlier, leered at her, and she repressed a shudder, then glanced sideways at the so far-silent Group Captain.
"I didn't have any part in 'this'," she protested. "I don't even know what 'this' is about. Your Mr Henderson claimed that Andrew had stolen secret documents, but I don't know anything about that."
"Oh, 'Andrew', is it?" said Dewson with a smirk. "So you and he are good pals, then?"
"Pilot Officer Foyle and I are on reasonably friendly terms, yes. But that's all."
"So you'd have us believe that the two of you haven't been colluding to steal documents about the work being carried out here, documents that you intended to disseminate to the enemy?" Dewson's tone was disbelieving.
"No!" protested Sam. "I keep telling you!"
"Then why were you visiting DCS Foyle's home this afternoon? Seems to me that you went there, knowing that we'd already arrested his son, with the intention of retrieving the documents from wherever it was young Foyle had stashed them."
Sam shook her head, as much in annoyance as denial. "There are no documents, or if there are, I've never seen them, and I knew nothing of them until your Mr Henderson started accusing Pilot Officer Foyle of stealing them." She gave Dewson a sharp look as something occurred to her. "How do you know that I knew Andrew had been arrested?"
"You were seen, Sergeant Stewart. I saw you, waiting for him across the road when he left the police station."
"So, you see, there's no point in denying that you and Foyle were colluding, when the evidence is so strong against you," Dewson concluded.
"Well, yes, there is," Sam said, irritated by the man's stubborn insistence and, as she saw it, sheer stupidity. "We weren't, aren't, and never have colluded."
"Then why were you seen talking together twice?" asked Dewson with an air of triumph worthy of a magician successfully pulling off a particularly complicated trick.
Sam suppressed a heavy sigh of annoyance. "I told you, we're on friendly terms. The first time was when Andrew took me out for a picnic lunch on his first day here. He'd discovered just how abysmal the food is here." She glanced up at the watching Group Captain, but he didn't so much as bat an eyelid at this criticism.
"And the second time?" persisted Dewson.
She hesitated for a moment, wondering how much she could say without risking her career.
"The second time, Sergeant?"
"The second time, Andrew was asking about my friend Lucy, who died."
"Ah yes, Lucy Smith. Threw herself under a train, I believe, because she couldn't hack the job."
"That's not true!" Sam objected swiftly, then wished she hadn't said anything as Graeme pushed himself away from the wall he'd been leaning on.
"Isn't it?" asked Dewson with another sneer. "The official report states quite clearly that she had been under a lot of strain, complaining of sleeping badly and feeling sick."
Sam bit her lip. She knew Lucy's nausea had been morning sickness, but no one else knew that she knew about Lucy's pregnancy, or the relationship that Lucy had been forced into by Graeme. If Sam revealed that she knew these things, would she risk losing her career, or was it too late for that, anyway? She wished Mr Foyle was here to confer with. She not only instinctively trusted Andrew's father, she'd also taken an instant liking to him; felt the strength of his trustworthiness.
"Well?" asked Dewson, his tone impatient.
"Lucy was unwell," Sam said, "but it had nothing to do with the work we were doing."
"Then what was it, Sergeant?"
Sam made up her mind. No matter what the risk to her career, she couldn't sit here and listen to Dewson disgracing her friend's memory. "Lucy Smith was pregnant," she said. "Group Captain Graeme was carrying on an illicit relationship with Lucy, and he got her pregnant, and when she told him, he told her to get rid of the baby. She was so ashamed that she killed herself and the baby, even though I promised to help her."
"That's a vicious lie," Graeme hissed, starting forward and leaning menacingly across the table towards Sam.
She leaned back, but kept her eyes locked on his; she could see the fear in them. "No, it's not," she responded, as calmly as she was able. "I saw the two of you together. You really ought to have been more careful, Group Captain."
He lashed out at her, too fast for her to register what he was going to do, and a ringing slap echoed around the stone-walled room.
Sam bit back a cry, lifting her hand to her stinging cheek as tears filled her eyes.
"That's enough, Group Captain Graeme," said Dewson sternly. "If you can't control yourself, leave."
Graeme stepped back and leant against the wall in his old spot, his arms folded across his chest.
"We'll leave you to think things over for a while, Stewart. Give some thought to what I said before, about the top brass and their leniency if you cooperate fully with us."
He stood and jerked his head at Graeme, who stalked out with an angry expression. Dewson glanced back at Sam before he left her alone.
She got up and moved over to the corner of the room where a jug of water and a basin were set out on a small table. She pulled out her handkerchief, dipped it into the water and held it against her cheek, glad of the soothing coolness.
After a moment she moved over to the camp bed that had been set up underneath the high, barred window, and sat down. She felt perilously close to tears and wondered whether Mr Foyle would be able to get her out of here, as he'd promised earlier. She couldn't see that anyone else was going to help her, not when her request to speak to her commanding officer had been refused point-blank.
Returning to Hastings, Foyle found a note from Milner. The detective had learned from the Brighton police force that Lucy Smith's parents lived in Eastbourne, so Foyle next drove over to see them.
"My Lucy was nineteen when she went to work with that Graeme," Mr Smith told Foyle quietly, looking at the photo of a young woman in uniform which took pride of place on the mantelpiece in his sitting room. "Just nineteen years old, and she was so proud." He looked back at Foyle. "You know, to be helping our boys. And you know what he did?"
Mrs Smith spoke up, sobs tearing at her. "She didn't know what she was doing. She didn't know anything about – that sort of thing."
Foyle gave her a nod of understanding; nice young girls mostly didn't know anything about sexual matters until they were married. His own wife hadn't, but then Rosalind had been even younger than Lucy Smith when Foyle had married her.
"He forced himself on her. She was young enough to be his daughter, for God's sake!" Mr Smith's tone was growing angrier. He turned away to the window at the far side of the room, and Foyle knew that he was fighting for self-control.
"He forced himself on her, and he made her have relations with him up against a wall. You know why?" Mr Smith demanded, turning around again and glaring. "He told her she wouldn't get pregnant that way. The worst of it – the worst of it was, she couldn't tell us anything." He glanced over at his wife. "Not about her work, not about what was happening, because they made her sign the Official Secrets Act. It was all too important, too secret. And he knew that too, of course."
He bit at his lip as his wife sobbed quietly on the sofa. "When he found out she was pregnant, that she was carrying his child, he put the fear of God into her. Enid managed to wheedle some of it out of her; enough for the two of us to work it out. But by then it was too late. Lucy couldn't bear the shame. She decided to put an end to it." His face worked as he again struggled for control of his emotions. "Her and the baby. She threw herself in front of that train," he said, looking at Foyle.
"He wrote to us, you know, Graeme did, after our daughter's funeral," Mrs Smith said quietly. "A letter of condolence. How he dared, I don't know." Her tone was bitter, and Foyle sympathised strongly.
"I daresay he didn't think you would know – or would find out – exactly what had happened to Lucy," Foyle said softly. "I know it's not much consolation to you, Mrs Smith, Mr Smith, but I can promise you that Group Captain Graeme will be brought to justice for what he did to your daughter. He's not going to remain unpunished. I'll see to that."
Mrs Smith began to weep again as her husband stepped across to Foyle and held out his hand. "Thank you, sir."
Foyle shook hands with him, then nodded to Mrs Smith, before letting himself out of the house. He decided to head back home from Eastbourne; it was getting late, and he wanted to get his thoughts in order before he confronted Group Captain Graeme.
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
Foyle sets about getting Andrew and Sam set free.
Special thanks to my beta, dancesabove, for her story-enhancing editorial suggestions on this chapter.
Andrew sat on the bed in his cell, leaning against the wall. His jacket was undone, his tie was off, and he'd unfastened the top button of his collar, too. He wasn't sure that he didn't prefer the relentless, if pointless, questioning to sitting here endlessly waiting for something else to happen.
He heard footsteps approaching, and as he heard the cell being unlocked, he glanced over towards its iron door.
"Dad!" he exclaimed, quickly getting to his feet. He felt like rushing over and hugging his father, but knew that to do so would make him uncomfortable. Besides, they weren't alone.
"How are you?" asked Foyle.
"All right," Andrew said. "Glad to see you."
The guard locked them in together and Andrew turned away towards his bed. His father moved around the table.
"This is a complete bloody mess, isn't it?" he asked, his calm tone reassuring Andrew.
"You're telling me."
"Well, you never mentioned your Communist Party membership to me," his father observed tartly.
"I'm not," Andrew said. He jerked his head. "I mean, I was, but – I'm not ashamed of it," he added defiantly, looking at his father.
"When were you ever interested in politics?" asked Foyle, putting his hat down on the table.
"After Franco," Andrew said immediately.
"Oh, yeah?" His father sounded quite disbelieving, he thought.
"Well, all right; wasn’t quite as simple as that," Andrew admitted. "You see, there was this girl – "
His father raised his eyes heavenwards, a half-smile twitching at his lips. "I see. Another one."
"I didn't take those documents, Dad," Andrew said soberly, shaking his head. If his father didn't believe him, no one would.
"I know you didn't take the documents, but somebody's taken the documents, and they've put them in your locker, haven't they?"
"A lot of strange things have been going on around here," Andrew told him. "Even before I got posted." He bit his lip before continuing, "A girl killed herself. Lucy."
"I know," Foyle told him quietly. "Your friend Sergeant Stewart told me about it. She's been arrested too."
Andrew looked shocked. "What? Where is she?"
"Being held elsewhere," Foyle said. "Don't worry, I'm going to get you both out of here."
Foyle drove back to Hastings police station again. He hadn't been allowed in to see Sergeant Stewart, to his intense annoyance, and he just hoped she was keeping her spirits up. After speaking briefly to Milner, he shut himself in his office and settled at his desk. He picked up the telephone and prepared to be endlessly shunted about by the RAF top brass until he could speak to someone high enough in authority to deal with Graeme, and Keller's cover-up of the reasons for Lucy Smith's death.
It indeed took him nearly two hours, but he eventually spoke with Sir Cyril Newall, who was the Air Chief Marshall, and therefore the most senior man within the RAF.
When he'd finished the conversation, he called in both Milner and Hugh Reid to apprise them of the details.
"The Air Chief Marshall has agreed, somewhat reluctantly, to my request for some cooperation in dealing with Group Captain Graeme, who will face a Courts Martial for his treatment of Lucy Smith. It's probable that they'll be charging him with ill-treating a subordinate. If he's found guilty, he'll be dismissed from the service," Foyle told the two men.
"What about Wing Commander Keller?" asked Hugh.
"The ACM has promised to investigate his part in the cover-up, but he'll be punished less severely if he's found guilty. I imagine, however, that he's going to strenuously deny any or all involvement." Foyle rubbed his fingertips across his brow. "I admit, I'm less concerned about what they do to Keller. Graeme's actions constituted gross misconduct: he forced a young woman into a sexual relationship, then bullied her when she told him that she was pregnant. He's directly responsible for her decision to take her own life and that of her unborn child. If I got my hands on him – " He shook his head, wondering if the other two men had any idea of just what he'd like to do to Graeme. He hoped not, although he suspected that Hugh, as a father of two young girls himself, could probably guess.
"I trust that you won't be seeing him when you go up to The Manor to collect Andrew?" Hugh asked.
"No, I won't see him – the ACM promised that the RAF police would arrest Graeme immediately. He was about to telephone The Manor after I finished speaking with him."
"Good." Hugh looked relieved, Foyle noticed, but didn't comment on it.
"Milner, where are you with the looting case?"
"I've got a good description from your witness of the man he saw, and I think I know who it is. I was going to arrange an identity parade as soon as we've picked up our man."
"Who is it?"
"Lenny Lightfoot," Milner said.
"Lightfingers, more like," Hugh snorted.
"Yes, sir," Milner smiled.
"Well done, Milner. Get Lenny into custody, and arrange the parade – for tomorrow, if you can." Foyle pushed back his chair. "Right, I'm off to The Manor again, unless there's anything else you think I should know?"
Milner shook his head, then made his way out of the office.
"What will happen to Andrew, and this young WAAF Sergeant?" asked Hugh as he got up.
"I shall tell Keller that the ACM is going to insist that they should both be reinstated and that nothing should appear on either of their records.”
Hugh nodded. "Hmm. Well, good. I'll see you tomorrow, probably."
Foyle nodded, rising to grab his hat from the coat stand. "See you tomorrow."
"I'm here to collect my son," Foyle told the Wing Commander in a tone that brooked no argument. "Is he still here?"
"Yes, yes, he's still here," Keller said, not turning around. "Look, Mr Foyle, whatever you may think, I swear to you, I've done absolutely nothing wrong." He did look around then, and Foyle frowned at him.
"Well, not entirely the case." His lips quirked with annoyance. "You know exactly why Lucy Smith killed herself. You helped cover the whole thing up."
"You have to put this into context, Mr Foyle," Keller said, coming over to lean on his desk. "Whatever his personal failings, Alistair Graeme is a first-class CO. He has a brilliant scientific mind. I don't know anyone in the country who understands radar better than him. And remember, Mr Foyle, my first job, my first responsibility, is to keep him in his rightful position in command of this station."
Foyle raised his eyebrows, pursing his lips. "By planting stolen documents in my son's locker? By arresting a young woman for nothing more than caring about what had happened to her best friend?"
Keller closed his eyes, then looked down at his desk. "That wasn't me."
"No. It was Graeme who planted the documents and arranged for the arrests. But you allowed it to happen. He was terrified it was all going to come out, and he used the investigation to keep my son and Sergeant Stewart out of the way."
"I was against it. I was against the whole idea," Keller protested weakly.
"And what he did to Lucy Smith might not have been, perhaps, strictly criminal, but it was immoral, improper, and downright disgusting. And it should cost him his job, and his marriage into the bargain."
"I'm not telling you again, Mr Foyle. I had no part in any of it. I was simply doing what I thought was best for the war."
Foyle closed his eyes, revolted. He wondered pessimistically just how many times he would hear that excuse trotted out to justify people's objectionable or criminal behaviour before the end of the war finally came.
"I'm sure a great many Nazis are going to be saying exactly the same thing when this war is over." He stared hard at Keller. "I want Andrew released, and not a word of this is to go on his record. And you can let Sergeant Stewart go, too," Foyle added.
"Certainly not," Keller said immediately. "She's guilty of breaking the Official Secrets Act, and as a consequence, she'll face a trial."
"If she does, it'll be a civilian trial, not a military one," Foyle said. "I am going to take Sergeant Stewart into my custody because I've no intention of letting you spirit her away or do anything else to her."
"Are you implying you don't trust me, DCS Foyle?" asked Keller coldly.
"No, Wing Commander Keller, I am telling you that I don't trust you." Foyle's tone was every bit as icy.
They stared at each other for what felt like minutes, but was in fact probably only thirty seconds. The shamed man glanced down at his desk. "Very well, Mr Foyle. Take her, and go. And you may tell her from me that she's dismissed from the service."
Foyle scowled at the officer, but did not bother arguing. "Goodbye, Wing Commander." He turned on his heel and strode to the door. As he looked back he saw that Keller had picked up the telephone, and Foyle heard him telling whoever was on the other end to release Sergeant Stewart into DCS Foyle's custody.
Foyle went downstairs to see Andrew first, because his cell was in the main building, and he would be remaining at The Manor anyway.
Andrew was seated at the table, smoking. When the guard unlocked the door he looked up. "Dad?" He sounded uncertain, but also hopeful.
"Come on," Foyle said.
His son got to his feet immediately, dropping the cigarette and grabbing his jacket, cap and tie. He hurried after his father as Foyle walked down the corridor.
"You are brilliant, Dad, you know that?"
"Yep," Foyle answered, knowing he sounded a little smug, but feeling he'd earned the right. It wasn't often that Andrew acknowledged his abilities, after all. He told his son about his conversations with Sir Cyril, and Wing Commander Keller, and the likely outcome for Group Captain Graeme.
"What about the sabotage to my Spit?"
"There's no proof that your plane was sabotaged, Andrew."
As they walked out into the sunshine, his son asked, "So you think I was imagining it?"
"Well, maybe," Foyle answered.
"But it felt like Graeme was trying to kill me."
"Well, I'm sure."
"But if it was him who planted the documents, surely it was him who sabotaged the IFF in my Spitfire?"
"Well, I don't think it could've been sabotage. He didn't have access to the plane," Foyle said. "He didn't want to kill you; he just wanted you out of the way."
"So, I sort of, over-reacted?" Andrew asked.
"Well," laughed Foyle. "Wouldn't be the first time!" He clapped his son on the shoulder. "Go and have some lunch. I've got to go and get Sergeant Stewart out of her cell."
"What'll happen to her?" asked Andrew, sounding a little wistful.
"Well, Keller's washed his hands of her, so she may not be coming back here. I'm taking her back to Hastings with me. I'll speak to Sir Cyril again, and the War Office too, if necessary, to try to ensure that she doesn't face a criminal trial. After all, she didn't tell me anything about her work here."
"Tell her I said sorry, will you?"
"For getting her into this mess."
Foyle cocked an eyebrow. As he saw it, Andrew hadn't got Sam into the situation – she had come to him independently, after all. But if his son was feeling remorseful about his behaviour, he wasn't going to discourage the boy.
"Very well. Take care of yourself, eh? And try not to get into any more trouble."
Andrew grinned. "I'll try." He shook hands with his father, and began to walk away, but turned back. "Thanks, Dad,” he said meaningfully, then hugged his father quick and hard. Then he strode away.
Foyle shook his head, surprised by the gesture, then turned towards the stable block.
Half an hour later, Foyle was driving Sam back to Hastings, her belongings in the boot of the Wolseley. "Are you all right, Miss Stewart?" She'd been very quiet since he'd collected her from the converted stable block and had explained to her how matters now stood.
"Yes, sir." Her tone was so subdued that he risked a glance at her face. Her expression, seen in profile, was stony, all emotion severely repressed, but he thought he saw a glimmer of tears in her eye.
"You don't have to call me 'sir', you know," he said gently. "If you don't want to call me 'Christopher', then 'Mr Foyle' will do."
"Do you normally invite your prisoners to address you by your given name?" she asked.
Foyle twisted his mouth. "Not as a rule. But you're a special case. For a start, you're not really my prisoner."
She shook her head. "I broke the Official Secrets Act," she said. "I knew exactly what I was doing, and what the consequences were likely to be, when I told you what was going on at The Manor. I don't deserve special treatment."
"I disagree with you, Miss Stewart. Group Captain Graeme's behaviour, and Wing Commander Keller's collusion in covering it up, was reprehensible. You had an obligation to tell someone, and since they were the two senior men at The Manor, telling an outsider was the only way to get the matter dealt with. You did the right thing in coming to me, and if it becomes necessary, I shall tell everyone at the War Office so."
He glanced across at her again, and saw that she was looking at him in obvious amazement and with some admiration. "You'd really do that?" she asked.
"Of course," he said firmly. "I am going to do my best to ensure that you don't even have to face a trial."
He heard her gulp before she spoke again. "Thank you."
He looked sideways a third time and saw that a tear was trickling down her face. With that he pulled off the road onto the grass verge and dug his handkerchief from his jacket pocket.
"Here," he said softly, passing the neatly folded square of linen across to her.
"I'm sorry, Mr Foyle," she mumbled, accepting the handkerchief. "You must think me an awful fool."
Foyle shook his head. "Of course not," he said. "I think you're a very brave young woman who's just been through a gruelling ordeal."
She started to sob in earnest then, and after a moment's hesitation, he shifted in his seat, then leaned across and patted her on the arm.
To his surprise, she turned to him and wrapped her arms around him, clinging tightly. He made himself hold her, although he was half afraid to do so because he was suddenly acutely aware that he wanted to do more.
"It'll be all right," he said, rubbing her back between her shoulder blades in a soothing manner. "You'll see."
Eventually she stopped sobbing, then straightened up. He took his handkerchief from her and mopped up a stray tear she'd missed. He had to resist a very strong urge to lean forward again in order to kiss her; that, he was sure, was the last thing she wanted right now, even if her tear-drenched eyes did look beautiful.
Don't be an old fool, Foyle, he scolded himself, forcing himself to pull away and pocket his now soggy handkerchief. Treat her like a daughter, and she'll thank you for it. She won't thank you for trying to play the lover. Not after Graeme.
"Thank you, Mr Foyle."
He gave her a nod, then turned to check there was no traffic behind them, before pulling the car back onto the road.
"How did you know where to find us?" asked Sam presently.
"I went to see your parents, well – your father actually – and asked him for your address." He gave her a small smile. "Since you're now technically in my custody, I can't really let you go and stay with them, but there's no reason you can't go and visit them. In fact, I think you probably should – if only to reassure your father that you're safe and well."
"Aren’t you going to lock me up, then?" she asked.
"Of course not. You didn't do anything wrong. You haven't broken the Defence Regulations, or the Official Secrets Act, because you didn't tell me anything about your work. Nor are you a danger to the public, so there's no need. I suggest that you stay with me temporarily while I sort things out with the War Office and the RAF top brass."
Her tone was so flat that Foyle looked at her quickly, then bit the inside of his cheek as he realised what must be worrying her – what she was probably too scared to mention.
"I apologise, Miss Stewart. I'm being stupid and insensitive to your situation." She gave him a surprised look. "Of course you should go and stay with your parents. After all, a vicar is as trustworthy as a policeman. I will have to ask you to notify me, however, if you are going to leave Lyminster for any reason. I have no idea how long it's going to take me to sort things out for you, so it's best if you keep me apprised of your movements in case I need to get in touch with you quickly. As I said, however, you're not a prisoner, so don't feel obliged to remain with your parents if you have other family whom you wish to visit."
"I'm not sure I understand," Sam said, now looking puzzled. "In what way were you insensitive?"
His left eyebrow rose. "I said you should stay with me, but obviously after your experience, and that of your friend, with Group Captain Graeme, I cannot expect you to feel comfortable staying unchaperoned in my home, even with my assurance that your virtue would be in no danger. I imagine Graeme is only a few years younger than I, and he was married – "
Foyle paused, hoping he did not sound pedantic, but he did want to sound business-like, to hide from her his slight nervousness at the very thought of anything intimate occurring between them.
“I suppose what I’m trying to say is, even my advancing years and widowed status may not feel to you like a guarantee of protection from my unwanted attentions." He tried to sound light-hearted as he went on, "However, if you trust yourself to me long enough to have a cup of tea, or otherwise refresh yourself, I will take you to my home first before I drive you to Lyminster."
Sam suppressed a smile, marvelling at his notion that she wouldn’t trust him after all he had done for her. Not only had it not occurred to her to worry about her virtue should she stay with him, but she’d (perhaps ironically) rather liked the idea; she found him quite attractive. He was obviously compassionate, as his championing of Lucy had proved; he was intelligent and courteous, and she suspected that he had a good sense of humour. She wondered what her father had made of Mr Foyle.
"I would be glad of a cup of tea," Sam said.
Foyle nodded, and drove past the police station, then on to Steep Lane. He parked the car a short distance from home, then led her back up the street.
"Come in," he said, stepping inside and holding the door open for her.
"Do you want to change out of your uniform or have a bath or something? I remember my late wife used to like to have a bath if she'd had a stressful day," he explained quickly, on second thoughts feeling awkward about mentioning this.
"I would like to wash my hands and face, and change my clothes, if that's all right," she said quietly.
"Of course. Let me show you where the bathroom is. Then I'll go and fetch your case out of the car."
She nodded and he led the way upstairs to the bathroom. "There's soap here, and fresh towels are in the linen cupboard there." He gestured at the cupboard in the corner. "Help yourself."
Sam caught his eyes and smiled gratefully. "Thank you, Mr Foyle."
"I'll get your case." He hurried out, wishing he'd thought to ask if she wanted her case before they'd got out of the car.
Left on her own, Sam sat down on the edge of Mr Foyle's bath and thought about her nerve-wracking day. How peaceful it was here, by contrast.
She shook her head, then got to her feet to wash her hands and face. She checked the small wall cupboard above the washbasin and found something to put on her cheek, which still rather stung from Graeme's slap. She had just unlocked the bathroom door again when she heard Foyle coming up the stairs.
"I'll put this in my room for you to get changed," he said, looking as awkward as he had when he'd asked if she wanted to change her clothes or have a bath. "Andrew's room is a tip, as usual, and I'm afraid my spare room is full of clutter."
He pushed opened a door beside the bathroom, and carried her case inside, setting it down atop the neatly made bed. "I'll go and see about some tea," he said. "Did you have any lunch?" He stepped back out onto the landing.
Sam shook her head. "No, but please, don't go to any trouble on my behalf."
"Well I didn't have anything either yet, so I'll do something for us both."
"Thank you." She gave him another appreciative smile, and he nodded before retreating back downstairs.
Sam stepped into his bedroom with a sense of curiosity, wondering just what it would reveal about this quiet, thoughtful man. She dared to open the doors of his wardrobe and found a dinner suit, together with plain navy, black and grey suits hanging up. The other side revealed a dozen or more shirts on hangers, several ties on a special tie hanger, and on the floor of the wardrobe, several pairs of shoes, all of which were highly polished. She refrained from looking at the contents of his chest of drawers with some difficulty, deciding that would be too much like prying. There was a dressing table with a mirror above it which she assumed had been his late wife's, although there was nothing in the way of make-up or women's hair products on the top. Instead someone, she presumed Mr Foyle, had arranged some family photographs in front of the mirror, and she looked with fascination at the one showing a handsome young man, in a uniform from the last war, not much older than Andrew Foyle. Next to it was a wedding photograph, and she was surprised by how young his wife looked – she would have said that Mrs Foyle was a child bride.
She glanced briefly at the photographs of Andrew as a baby and a toddler, then turned her attention back to changing out of her uniform. Until today she'd been immensely proud of her WAAF blue, but now she felt as if she had dishonoured it, even though Mr Foyle kept assuring her that she had done nothing wrong. She pulled a pale blue dress from her case and shook it out to make sure it wasn't creased, and found a pair of summer shoes to go with the dress. She changed swiftly, then spent a few minutes more in combing out her hair, leaving it to lie loose about her shoulders.
She folded up her uniform and packed it into her case, then carried it downstairs with her and placed it by the telephone table. As she straightened up, she saw Mr Foyle standing in a doorway at the other end of the hall.
"I'm sorry I took so long," she said, hoping she wouldn't blush in case he somehow divined that she had been snooping in his room.
"You didn't," he answered immediately, giving her a little smile and casting his eyes down quickly lest she read the admiration in his glance. "I've only just finished making some sandwiches. Do you mind eating in the kitchen?"
"Not at all."
He gestured at the room behind him and she walked quickly down the hall to join him. "That colour suits you," he said quietly, giving her a sideways look as if to check that his compliment was acceptable.
"Thank you." He pulled out a chair for her and she sat down, suppressing a smile at his old-fashioned courtesy.
"Do you take milk and sugar in your tea?" he asked, pouring out two cups.
"Yes, thank you."
A few minutes later they were settled on either side of the small table, eating the sandwiches Mr Foyle had prepared. Sam was reminded of her picnic lunch with his son, and how Andrew had flirted with her; if she were honest, she would have been quite happy to have Mr Foyle flirting with her now, but that was obviously not going to happen.
Sam decided to ask after Andrew, since Mr Foyle had only told her that he was remaining at The Manor to continue assisting in the development of the radar system, and so, to the private disappointment of both, their brief meal was spent in discussing his son, rather than in learning more about each other.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
Foyle and Sam eventually establish how they feel about each other.
And it's done. Thanks, as ever, to my beta, dancesabove, for her efforts.
By half past two they were on the road again, heading to Lyminster; Foyle would have liked to have found an excuse to keep Sam with him longer, but he didn't want to risk making a fool of himself, which he feared he might do. He wasn't sure at what point his liking for Samantha Stewart had developed into something stronger; he only knew that he was very attracted to the young WAAF. He not only found her beautiful, but intelligent, caring, loyal to her friends, and courageous.
Fearing he still might say something to give himself away, and wanting to avoid offending her at all costs, he decided to ask after her family.
"If you don't mind me asking, what's wrong with your mother? Your father didn't actually say."
"No, he wouldn't have," Sam said. "His generation doesn't discuss that sort of thing with strangers."
Foyle refrained from making the obvious retort, amused that she didn't seem to consider him of the same generation as her parents. He grimaced instead. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry."
"You weren't. In actual fact, Mother lost a baby through a miscarriage, and she's never been very strong, or properly well, since. She was always fairly delicate, anyway. I also think it upset her a good deal more than she's ever really let on – certainly to me."
Foyle glanced at Sam briefly, then kept his eyes firmly on the road in order to spare her blushes at this personal revelation. The spots of colour in her cheeks enhanced her beauty, he felt, but he refrained from saying so.
"I'm very sorry to hear that," he said quietly.
He wondered if Mrs Stewart had found the loss of her unborn child as painful as he had found the loss of Rosalind. Apparently the vicar and his wife had not had any more children, as he knew Sam to be an only child. He supposed that if he were to marry again, he could have more children, provided that he married a woman not past child-bearing age –
Foyle pushed that thought aside. He couldn't imagine that Sam would ever be interested in him, and he had no intention of making himself as odious as Graeme by trying to persuade her to take such an interest.
"Do you – " Sam began, then stopped.
Intrigued, Foyle looked her way again and saw that she was blushing a second time. "Do I – what?" he asked.
She shook her head. "No, it doesn’t matter," she said apologetically. "It was far too personal a question to ask of someone I barely know, even if I do somehow feel that I've known you for more than just a few days."
Foyle turned the corners of his mouth down, suppressing a smile. "It's funny, but I feel the same way about you. Anyway, I think you should ask the question. After all, you answered my rather personal question just now."
She glanced at him, appearing surprised, though whether it was his permission to ask a personal question or because of his admission that he shared her sensation that they'd known each other for a long time, he wasn't sure.
"No, but thank you for the offer."
He raised an eyebrow. "I suspect I know what you wanted to ask."
"Really?" she asked, her tone doubtful.
"Mmm." He waited until he had overtaken a tractor that was trundling along ahead of them, then spoke again. "I would imagine that you were going to ask if I still miss my wife." He gave her a quick glance and saw from her startled expression that he'd surmised correctly.
"I was," she admitted. "Though I don't know how you guessed."
He smiled properly then. "I am a detective," he pointed out. "And it wasn't hard to work out, since we had just been talking about losing family members."
"Oh. Of course." She gave him a quick smile, but he noticed that she didn't press him for an answer to her question.
"I do miss Rosalind," he said quietly. "Sometimes very much. But I'm not wallowing in grief, although Andrew probably believes otherwise." Sam gave him a questioning look, so he elaborated. "Andrew asked me, just a couple of days ago, if I'd ever thought of marrying again, and because I chose not to discuss it with him, he probably thinks I'm either still too much in love with his mother, or that I'm grieving too much to consider it."
"Thank you for telling me," Sam said. "I didn't mean to pry."
"If I had considered that you were prying, I wouldn't have told you," he reassured her.
During the rest of the journey Sam remained quiet, and Foyle respected her silence; he thought she must be tired and glad of the chance to see her parents. He wished that she could have stayed with him, but he'd been foolish even to consider it; the whole town would have been talking about it within hours if she had, and he had no intention of compromising her reputation.
He pulled up outside the vicarage with a silent sigh, then collected Sam's bags from the boot of the Wolseley. He followed her up the path to the front door, which opened just before they reached it.
"Samantha!" The vicar's expression went from startled to pleased to concerned in a matter of moments, Foyle noticed.
"Hello, Dad." Sam leaned in to kiss him on the cheek, then turned towards Foyle. "You've met Mr Foyle, I believe."
"Yes, of course. Do come in, Mr Foyle." The vicar stepped back inside and held the door as Foyle carried Sam's bags into the hall.
"You can leave them there," Sam said, gesturing to a spot in the corner of the hall in front of a grandfather clock that Foyle hadn't even noticed on his previous visit, he'd been so preoccupied. He put the cases down, then entered the sitting room at a gesture from Sam's father.
"Tea?" asked the vicar.
"You will stay and have tea, won't you?" Sam asked.
She sounded anxious, he thought. Foyle wondered if she wanted him to remain so he could mediate with her father.
"Thank you, I will." He gave her a reassuring smile, and her expression brightened.
"How's Mother?" Sam asked.
"She was having a nap when I looked in on her earlier," her father answered.
"I'll just go up and see if she's awake," Sam said. "But I promise not to disturb her."
Reverend Stewart nodded, smiling in understanding. "All right, dear. I'm glad to see you safe and well," he added.
Sam gave him a shaky sort of smile as she went out. Her father turned to Foyle as soon as her footsteps had crossed the hall.
"Thank you for bringing Samantha home, Mr Foyle," he said sincerely. "Is everything all right?"
"Not quite, no," Foyle answered. "I'm afraid I wasn't able to sort out Sam's spot of bother entirely to my satisfaction, but I haven't given up hope yet. Your daughter is a very courageous and compassionate young woman, and she has been treated very unfairly by her superiors at The Manor, but I don't intend to let matters rest as they are."
"Do sit down, Mr Foyle. I sense this is not a brief tale."
"No, it's not." He took a seat on the sofa opposite what was clearly Mr Stewart's armchair.
"I'll go and make that tea, then, and perhaps you will tell me what's happened?"
The vicar headed to the kitchen, and a few moments afterwards Sam returned.
"Dad making some tea?" she guessed. Foyle nodded. "I wanted to thank you, for bringing me home, and for staying to talk to him."
"That's quite all right, Miss Stewart," he said, almost tenderly.
She frowned at him, and he raised an eyebrow enquiringly. "Would you mind calling me 'Sam'? Dad always calls me Samantha, and at The Manor, I was always 'Stewart'. If you call me 'Miss Stewart', then I feel like I don't know myself."
"And are you going to call me 'Christopher'?" he asked, amused to find himself wondering in some suspense if she would.
"Very well, Christopher. But only in private." She smiled shyly, then crossed the room to sit beside him on the sofa, leaving a decorous gap between them.
Sam's father came in at that moment, and she jumped back up to take the tea tray from him, setting it on the side table next to his chair.
"Shall I pour?" she asked him, and he agreed, then settled into his seat.
"Thank you, Sam," Foyle said, taking the cup and saucer from her, then returned the smile she shot him.
Once everyone was settled with their tea, the vicar gave Foyle an expectant look, so he turned to Sam and said, "Your father wants to know what's happened. Do you want to start, or shall I?"
"I'll start," Sam answered, and proceeded to relate what had happened between Group Captain Graeme and her friend Lucy.
Foyle noted that, while the vicar was clearly disgusted by Graeme's actions, he wasn't as shocked as Foyle might have expected. He then realised that the Reverend Stewart had probably seen it all before, having been a vicar for so many years.
Foyle took over the narrative from Sam to explain about Andrew's arrest and the missing documents planted in his locker.
"Essentially Graeme was trying to keep Andrew out of the way in order to deflect attention from what he'd done. Curiosity is a Foyle family trait, I'm afraid, and Andrew couldn't leave well enough alone once he'd heard about Lucy's death. Unfortunately, Sam got caught up in Graeme's efforts to protect himself, and although she's done nothing wrong, Wing Commander Keller is trying to save his bacon by dismissing her."
He gave Sam a quick smile, then turned back to the vicar. "As I told you, Mr Stewart, I don't intend to let the matter rest. As I've already spoken to Sir Cyril once on this matter, I'll be taking it up with him again. I shall do my utmost to get Sam reinstated, because she doesn't deserve to be punished simply for caring about her friend, and her friend's reputation."
"Thank you, Mr Foyle. It's very good of you to go to so much trouble for our Samantha."
He shook his head. "It's no trouble," he said firmly, then changed the subject to pleasanter topics while they finished their tea.
Sam walked him out to his car, and he remembered to give her his telephone numbers at work and at home. "I'll telephone as soon as I've got any news for you," he assured her as she took the page he'd torn from his notebook.
"I don't know how to thank you," she said earnestly. "Just saying it doesn't seem enough."
He shook his head again, wondering if she could tell that some of his determination was born of his admiration for her. "Really, Sam, don't worry about it. I'm glad that I can help you."
He offered her his hand, which she shook, but then, still grasping his hand, she leaned in and kissed him fleetingly on the cheek. His eyebrows rose in surprise and he almost lifted his hand to touch the spot where her lips had brushed him, but he thought better of it. Sam was watching him, blushing, but looking slightly defiant as well. He got into the Wolseley, deciding to say nothing for fear of revealing too much.
As she watched Mr Foyle drive away, Sam wondered greatly at her daring in kissing his cheek, even if it was only the briefest touch of her lips against his warm, slightly bristly skin. She had meant what she said about words not being enough thanks for his kindness in helping her – he could so easily have felt that getting her out of the cell at The Manor was enough.
She sighed, then made her way back indoors, wondering just what she was going to do about her feelings for him. He seemed to have turned her world upside down in the space of just a few days.
When she returned to the sitting room, she found that her mother had got up after her nap. Sam quickly bent to give her a gentle hug.
"Samantha, my darling, I didn't know you were home," Mrs Stewart said, sounding pleased as well as surprised.
"I did come up to say 'hello'," Sam explained, "but you were sound asleep, and I didn't want to disturb you."
"I'm sorry, dear."
"No, that's all right, Mother. I didn't mind at all. Although you did miss meeting Mr Foyle."
"Mr Foyle? I don't think I know that name, do I?"
"Probably not. He's a policeman from Hastings, a Detective Chief Superintendent, no less. His son's a pilot and is based at The Manor where I'm working."
"And he gave you a lift home? That was kind of him."
Before Sam could answer that, her father came back into the sitting room with a fresh pot of tea, which gave her enough time to make up her mind not to upset her mother with the details of her enforced leave from The Manor. The grateful look she received from her father, as she agreed with her mother that Mr Foyle had kindly given her a lift home, convinced her that this was the better course. Sam and her father had long ago come to a tacit agreement to keep as much distressing information from Mother as they possibly could, given the fragile state of her health, and although Sam had often wished that she could properly confide in her mother, the habit was too long established to break easily.
After they had finished their tea, Sam and her father left Mrs Stewart listening to the wireless while they retired to the vicar's study to talk about Sam's situation. She not only found her father sympathetic and understanding of the actions she'd taken, but also impressed by the kindness of Mr Foyle in assisting Sam.
"He strikes me as a very understanding sort of man," her father said. "I suspect he's seen as much, or even more, of the worst of people as I have during his career as a policeman, but I did not sense any cynicism in him. No doubt his family have helped him to remain hopeful."
"I'm not sure," Sam said. "His wife Rosalind is dead, and I gather his son, Andrew, is a fairly irrepressible flirt. He certainly lost no time in flirting with me!"
"Well, that's understandable, my dear." Sam gave her father a questioning look, and he smiled. "You are an attractive young woman, Samantha, and he is a young man facing battle. It's not surprising that he would flirt with you. But – you will be careful, won't you?"
"Father!" Sam knew she was blushing. "Of course I will. Anyway, Andrew's not my type."
The vicar nodded. "Well, even so. I know that times are changing, my dear, and moral laxity is obviously becoming more commonplace, if even a man like Group Captain Graeme can fall so far from one's ideal of a serving officer. But I should hate to think of you doing anything you might regret."
Sam felt as if her father had read her mind and knew exactly how she felt about Mr Foyle, but she hoped that wasn't the case. Until she knew how Christopher felt about her – and she wasn't sure she'd even get the opportunity to discover Mr Foyle's feelings – she had no intention of discussing the matter.
"Don't worry, I won't," she said firmly, and her father nodded, then changed the subject, to her immense relief.
Foyle rang Sam at her parents' home eight days after he'd left her in Lyminster.
"I've heard from Sir Cyril, finally," he told her. "He'll be writing to you to confirm this, but I wanted to let you know right away. You're to be fully reinstated in your former role with the WAAF."
"Really?" she asked, sounding doubtful even as she quelled her excitement.
"Really," he answered, smiling although she couldn't see it. "He's quite satisfied that you didn't break the Defence Regulations or the Official Secrets Act when you came to see me about Lucy Smith's death, so there's no case for you to answer."
There was a pause on Sam’s end of the line, and Foyle waited patiently, guessing that she was trying to digest his news.
"Thank you, Mr Foyle."
He wondered if he were imagining the hint of reluctance in her voice, as if she wasn't happy at the information. "Are you all right, Sam?" he asked gently.
"Yes," she answered, but in such a subdued tone that he wasn't convinced.
"Sir Cyril asked me to reassure you that Wing Commander Keller will not be there. In fact, Sir Cyril has already had him removed from his post. They've appointed a new Group Captain and a new Wing Commander. And he's appointing a Flight Officer to The Manor as well, to look after the WAAF staff, which he said will be expanding because of the increased work-load. So you'll have a senior officer of your own to report to, should anything untoward occur. Which I sincerely hope won't happen – once was once too often."
The amount of relief in Sam's voice made him grateful that Sir Cyril had passed on all this additional information, and had given him permission to tell Sam so that her mind could be set at ease.
"Thank you for telling me, Mr Foyle," she said, sounding much more cheerful now.
"That's all right. Sir Cyril thought you'd want to know." He paused, taking a deep breath as quietly as he could. "Anyway, I wondered if you'd like to have dinner with me before you return to your duties at The Manor?" He had considered the propriety of his offer for some time after he'd spoken to the Air Chief Marshall, but he desperately wanted to see her one last time before she disappeared back out of his life.
"Oh, I'd love to! Thank you." Her response was quick and eager, making him smile again.
"How would tomorrow evening suit?"
"That sounds lovely. What time?"
"Seven o'clock? I'll meet you off the train."
"That's settled then. See you tomorrow."
"I'll be there," she said, happiness plain in her voice.
Foyle put the telephone receiver back with a sigh of satisfaction. He tried not to think of it as a farewell meal, although he was fairly confident that Sam wouldn't want to see him again once she was back at The Manor. It was enough to consider that she'd sounded delighted by the invitation.
As it turned out, Sam did want to see Foyle again after their first dinner together, and they began to have dinner once a month. She would come into Hastings on a weekend leave pass and have a meal with him before she went home to Lyminster. Mr Foyle drove her there so that she wouldn't have to rush to catch the final train; he'd insisted on taking her after she had almost missed her train after their first Friday dinner, and Sam had to admit it was very pleasant to be driven home, talking to Mr Foyle about his latest cases, rather than being rattled and jolted there by train.
Six months after they'd first met, Sam finally decided that she had to talk to her monthly date about their relationship. He was always the model of propriety and treated her almost as if she were his daughter, but there were moments, now and again, when she was convinced that he felt more. Moments when his hands seemed to linger slightly longer than necessary on her shoulders as he helped her on with her coat, or when his hand or arm would brush against hers when they were walking to and from the car or the restaurant. Then there was that warmth in his eyes; warmth that she thought might even, at times, be something more than mere affection. As Sam's own feelings for Christopher had only deepened over the last six months, she felt that she ought to speak out, or else bring a graceful end to their meetings. She wasn't sure they could go on as they were any longer.
"Mmm?" He gave her a fleeting glance, then turned his attention fully back to the narrow road along which he was driving slowly, owing to the headlights on the Wolseley being shuttered, and the very dark January evening.
"Can I ask you something?" She wondered if she sounded as tentative as she felt.
He chuckled slightly, glancing at her from the corners of his eyes. "You don't usually ask my permission."
"But this is a different sort of question," she said.
"What do you want to know, Sam?"
"Are you – " She paused, the question seeming foolish now she came to actually ask him.
"Am I what?" His tone was patient, just as it always was when he was answering her questions, and once again she marvelled at how he never seemed to mind her curiosity.
"Are you and I – well, courting?" she asked, the words coming out in a rush. She closed her eyes once she'd asked, afraid to see his reaction.
"Yes, I suppose we are," he answered, sounding thoughtful now. "Do you mind?" She opened her eyes and saw him take a quick, almost amused, look at her again.
"No, I don't mind," she said slowly. "But you didn't say anything."
"No, and my conscience has been uneasy on that subject," he said. "I wanted us to have a chance to get to know each other, but I’ve worried, after what happened with Graeme, that you might be repulsed by the idea. So it was easier to say nothing, and to just keep seeing you each month." He sighed. "At least that way, I still had your friendship."
He pulled the car over to the side of the road, and Sam glanced out to see that he'd stopped across the gateway to a field. "I'm truly sorry, Sam, to deceive you in such a way, but – "
"Christopher," she said, breaking into his self-recriminations. "I don't mind – and besides, if you're guilty of deceiving me, then I've done the same to you."
"You have?" He sounded quite surprised, she noticed.
"Yes. I've been attracted to you since we first met." With pleasure she took note of his faint blush at her words. "And I was delighted that you wanted to go on meeting me after our first dinner. But I was also scared to say anything – I thought you might think I was being absurd, because –
well, I know I'm young enough to be your daughter. Or that you might believe it was some sort of misplaced hero-worship, because you helped me out after I was arrested."
"So why have you said something now?" asked Foyle, his heart speeding up.
"Because I had to know if you wanted more, as I do." She paused, again squeezed shut her eyes. "Because if you don't, I feel that I can't go on as we have been. As much as I've loved having dinner with you once a month, and the chance to get to know you better without any sort of pressure, I want – far more than that."
"Sam." His tone was tender, and in the dim light she saw him turn towards her; she didn't hesitate to move nearer to him, and in another moment he was kissing her gently. She immediately wrapped her arms around his shoulders, lifting a hand to toy with the curls at the nape of his neck, through which she'd so often longed to run her fingers.
She lost all track of time as they kissed, and it was only a desperate need for air that caused them to break apart. Foyle rested his forehead against hers as they sought to catch their breath and calm down at least a little.
"What happens now?"
"I shall drive you to visit your parents and, if it's acceptable to you, I will speak to your father about us becoming engaged."
Her eyes widened and she tightened her arms about him, feeling a surge of excitement and giddiness. "Oh! Yes!" she said eagerly.
He chuckled slightly. "In that case, then, Miss Stewart, will you marry me?"
"I will, Mr Foyle."
He kissed her again, more briefly this time, then pulled away. "We'd better get moving, then, or your father will think you're not coming."
She released him a little unwillingly, but with a good deal of delight filling her as she contemplated the fact that she was going to marry Christopher Foyle.
Foyle pulled up outside the vicarage feeling slightly nervous. He got on fairly well with Iain Stewart, but he still wasn't sure how Sam's father would feel about him marrying her. The vicar was aware that Foyle and Sam had been having dinner before he drove her to Lyminster, but Foyle wasn't sure if he'd already worked out how Foyle felt about Sam. The fact that the vicar hadn't objected to his daughter meeting Foyle once a month in such a way gave him hope that Reverend Stewart wouldn't disapprove.
As soon as Sam had rounded the car, she slid her hand into his, as if sensing his nervousness, and Foyle squeezed her fingers in gratitude.
"How do you think your parents will react?" he had asked her a little earlier, once they had resumed their drive.
"I think Mother will be delighted, and I don't think Father will object."
"I hope you're right."
Now Sam unlocked the door and he followed her inside, then along the hall to the sitting room, where they could hear soft music from the wireless.
"Samantha, darling, there you are!" The vicar got to his feet as his daughter entered, then cast a somewhat surprised look at Foyle. "Christopher, how nice to see you. Tea?"
"Thank you," Foyle said. Then, clearing his throat slightly, he added, "There's something I'd like to talk to you both about." He glanced from Iain Stewart to his wife.
"Privately?" asked Sam's father.
"Oh, no. It's just – " he paused, wondering where or how to begin. He felt Sam's arm nudge gently against his as he floundered. "I've asked Sam to be my wife."
"Oh, my darling!" exclaimed Mrs Stewart, sounding thoroughly pleased.
Sam quickly moved over to her chair and knelt beside it to exchange happy embraces. Foyle switched his attention back to the vicar and found to his vast relief that the man was grinning broadly.
"Congratulations to you both," the Reverend said. He offered his hand, and Foyle shook it, fighting the tears that threatened his eyes.
"I must admit, I have had my suspicions that this was on the cards," Sam's father said with twinkling eyes, embracing his daughter in turn.
Sam offered to go and make the tea, and Iain apologised for not having anything stronger in the house to offer them in order to toast their engagement.
"That's all right," Foyle said, smiling slightly at the other man. "I'm just glad you've taken the news so well."
"I told my husband that Sam was interested in you, several months ago," Mrs Stewart put in. "She had that look about her."
"And I was fairly sure that you reciprocated," the vicar said. "But I wasn't sure you'd ever ask her – not after losing your first wife."
Sam bustled in with the tea at that moment, and Foyle immediately got up to take the heavy tray from her.
He stayed an hour, discussing with Sam and her parents when and where they would hold the wedding. The vicar suggested that his brother Aubrey officiate for them, so that Iain could still give his daughter away, and Foyle acquiesced after a brief, silent conference with Sam, whom he could see was delighted by the idea. They set a date for August, one year after their first meeting, which seemed to Foyle rather apt.
Sam walked him out to the car when Foyle prepared to leave, despite the fact it was a cold night.
"I hope Andrew won't mind," she mused, snuggling close to her fiancé as she slid her arms around him under his overcoat. "After all, I think he rather fancied me."
Foyle chuckled as he wrapped his arms around her in turn. "He did. He waxed quite lyrical about you, just a day or two after he first met you."
"Well, if he was that interested, he should have said something, instead of just flirting with me," she said.
"Mmm," was all Foyle offered by way of an answer as he ducked his head to nuzzle the side of Sam's neck.
"Will you come and see me this weekend?" she asked, wriggling slightly in his grasp.
"If you want me to?"
"I do," she said firmly. "Come for lunch tomorrow, and then stay the afternoon?"
"Very well." He kissed up her neck and along her jaw, sighing with pleasure when she turned to him and let him ease her mouth open with his tongue. After a languorous and pleasant while he pulled away. "Mmm. I'd better go."
Sam muttered her disappointment as she reluctantly unwrapped her arms. She happily accepted another brief kiss on the lips before opening the Wolseley's door for him. "I'll see you tomorrow, half past twelve?"
"I'll be here," he agreed, giving her one of those lovely warm smiles of his. He climbed into the car, then pulled away, waving to her through the window he'd opened. He was whistling softly to himself as he headed back to Hastings. He didn't know how Andrew – or Hugh Reid, for that matter – was going to react to his news, but he didn't care: he was far too happy.