Death in the Devil's Den

Death in the Devil's Den by Cora Harrison Read Free Book Online

Book: Death in the Devil's Den by Cora Harrison Read Free Book Online
Authors: Cora Harrison
on the pan placed on top of the glowing coals.
    Sarah saw Richard give an admiring glance around, commenting on how cosy it was and seating himself beside the fire. Alfie seemed pleased with his praise, though Sarah reckoned that to a
Westminster schoolboy like Richard it was probably a very poor place. He wanted to please, she thought, but quickly turned her attention back to the solving of the spy mystery. The five pounds that
Inspector Denham promised would keep the boys safe in the cellar for the rest of the winter. The puzzle had to be solved.
    ‘Just drawings,’ Alfie was saying. ‘I couldn’t see very well.’
    ‘And the paper that he ate?’ asked Tom. ‘Imagine eating a piece of paper! What was written on that?’
    ‘Sort of nonsense,’ said Alfie with a frown. He was proud of his quick brain and hated not to understand things straight away. ‘ The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy
dog ,’ he said reluctantly and Tom sniggered. ‘I think it had some numbers on it too, but I didn’t see them properly. They was written too small,’ added Alfie.
    ‘Easy to remember,’ said Sarah thoughtfully. ‘Look how you remember it, although you only saw it for a second. Must mean something. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy
dog. ’
    ‘Don’t see how,’ argued Tom. ‘What could foxes and dogs have to do with Russian spies?’
    ‘Perhaps it’s just the first part of the message,’ said Sammy quietly. It was the first sentence that he had spoken since he heard about the plan for him to sing at Westminster
Abbey with the other choirboys. That had brought a flush of excitement to his pale cheeks.
    Richard looked across at him. He had been a little embarrassed about how to deal with a blind boy, but now he had got used to it.
    ‘Let’s have a go at the Magnificat , Sammy,’ he said, stuffing the last sausage into his mouth and tipping some more beer into his mug. ‘By Jove, I like your
tipple! Good for the throat, this sort of stuff. The boys at Westminster School used to always have beer, but now they just have tea. Beer’s much better,’ he said approvingly.
    ‘I’ve listened to your choir practising it,’ said Sammy confidently. ‘I only know the first verse, though. You’ll have to teach me the rest.’ He stood up
unselfconsciously and began to sing. Even Tom was frozen into stillness as Sammy’s high, pure voice filled the little cellar and echoed from the rafters overhead.
    ‘My God! You’re better than me! You reached that high C more easily than I do. You’d better sing softly or else old Ffoulkes, blind as a bat though he is, will scent out a
stranger.’ Richard sounded very taken aback and Alfie smiled to himself at the Westminster boy’s astonishment. He supposed it did seem amazing that a poor boy like Sammy could sing as
well as the best choirboys of Westminster. He felt pleased that his brother had won the approval of a toff like Richard.
    ‘Do all the boys go to evensong, or is it just the choir?’ Sarah was working out how they would get a blind boy into the choir stalls of Westminster Abbey without anyone noticing.
Pity that Tom was not the musical one, she thought, but then, when she saw Sammy’s face, flushed with excitement, she changed her mind. Poor Sammy, he did not have a great life. Singing with
the most famous boy choristers in the whole of London would be a wonderful thing for him – something that he would look back on for years.
    Life’s not fair, thought Sarah, not for the first time. She was not especially musical herself, but it was easy to hear that Sammy had a purer, higher voice than Richard and yet Richard
had been in the Westminster choir for four years, with singing lessons twice a day.
    Why was it that Sammy had no chance of a life like that?
    Why was it that Alfie seemed so keen to impress a boy like Richard? Jack, who was shy and modest, had not said a word and Tom was showing off a bit too much. Why, she asked herself, was she so

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