Harry McFry’s natural suspicion was usually masked pretty well behind an affable demeanour. If he didn’t always take people as he found them, it was because he knew, well enough, how easy it was to hide his own essential character traits from others. But it made him, on the whole, a good judge of people. Listening, now, to
With Danny out of the room, Harry fixed a stare at
“OK, Laurel. I think we’ve got the picture. And I’m starting to think this whole ‘missing family’ business is more serious for you than you might imagine.” He waited for her reaction.
“I know it must be serious, Harry. That’s why I called you in.”
“Then it’s time we discussed my terms. As I said, I want to work with Danny on this one. He’s a good kid. Smart. He knows things about computers you and I wouldn’t even guess. That OK with you?”
Harry outlined his daily rate for Danny and himself, capped in the first instance at two weeks, to be renegotiated at that point. Reasonable travel and accommodation costs for the two of them. An interim report at the end of week one. And a pool of cash for buying certificates at a rate of £30 each.
Harry studied her. She was clearly careful with her money. “It may seem high to you, Laurel, but I’ve got connections. I get the certificates I want, and I get them fast. It doesn’t pay to hang around in a case like this.”
Harry noticed the outline of Danny Longhurst through the frosted glass of his door. He lowered his voice a little.
That was an easy pledge to make, for Harry – there was nothing on his books that couldn’t wait an extra couple of weeks. “Sure. I wouldn’t think of anything else,” he said.
“So, we’ll be in touch in a week,
Danny filled the coffee machine, wondering what arrangements Harry had negotiated with
Not three hundred yards from Harry’s office, Colin McAllistair and Stan were still studying the medals.
“How much do you know about the Spanish Civil War, Stan?” Colin asked in his soft Scots burr.
“I’ve just been re-reading ‘Homage to
Colin smiled. Complicated wasn’t the half of it. He’d once given a lecture on the role of the Basque nationalists in the civil war. Logically, they were supporters of the church, and rabidly anti-communist. Yet they found themselves in league with socialist and communist members of the Popular Front, fighting against the rebel nationalist forces. “Complicated isn’t the word, Stan,” he replied. “The whole affair made for some strange bedfellows. It might surprise you to know that these medals weren’t actually issued during the war itself. The date on the back refers to a battle that took place on the outskirts of
Stan looked confused. “Nothing unusual with that, is there?”
“Sorry, Stan. I should have been clearer. I meant the Second World War.”
Stan considered this a little. “So who actually issued them?”
“Thereby hangs a tale, Stan, thereby hangs a tale. But I can tell you that your initial assessment of them being of some value was not, in fact, correct. They have considerable value.”
Colin thought he caught Stan actually salivating. “Now, I need to know how you came by the medals.”
Stan considered for a moment. “They actually belong to an old friend of mine, Harry McFry. He’s going to be dropping by in a few minutes, so you can meet him. I know he’ll be happy that they’re worth something, anyway.”
Colin thought for a second. “Then it may well be best to leave the subject of their precise value until then. Perhaps, Stan,” he said, glancing again at the mugs in the corner, but hiding his distaste behind politeness, “I will have a cup of tea, after all.”
Danny noticed how much emptier the room seemed after Laurel McFry had left. He lifted the papers on his seat, and took his position over the desk from Harry.
“Do you mind me asking – what was that all about?” he said, an undertone of anger in his voice. They both knew what he’d meant.
“Danny, that was all about business. I’ve just negotiated our fees with
“It kinda depends on what it’s 50% of, Harry!” Danny was smiling, now, but when Harry outlined the amount, and said it was guaranteed for two weeks, his smile moved to a grin: “That’s good work, Harry! I never thought it would be so much.”
“Never undersell yourself, Danny. That’s…”
And here, Danny interjected: “Don’t tell me, don’t tell me. That’s the third rule of being a genealogical private eye.”
Harry looked at him. “That’s the fourth rule, Danny. I’ll tell you about number three some other time.”