stopped at the edge of the wood, breathing heavily. Across the
meadow she could hear shouting, bustle and general commotion in and
around the house. People with lights were moving around the
garden, searching, but there was no sign of anyone coming out onto the
meadow. She crouched unseen among the bushes, and I read in her
mind a question: who or what was the voice that suddenly inspired her
to knee Lord Savark? Was it a guardian angel or some devilish
inspiration? It had saved her from rape, but was the trouble she
was in now worse than anything that would have happened to her at
Savark Court? She had attacked His Lordship, and now they would
hunt her down.
She heard calls from the garden, carried on gusts of
wind: “Roquana! Roh-quaaa-naa!” Then came the
sound of barking dogs. They were setting hounds to track her!
She sprang up and forced her way through the
undergrowth, desperate to get deeper into the woods before the dogs
crossed the meadow. It was hard. Low branches obstructed
her and thorny brambles scratched at her legs, then, unexpectedly, she
found herself in an open track made by animals beneath the
bushes. She hurried along it, while the hounds bayed somewhere on
the far side of the meadow.
Roquana gasped, for suddenly she was grabbed and
hoisted into the air. Her attacker carried her along the track
grunting as it went.
“Got her! Got her!” it seemed to
say, as the sound of the dogs came closer, then, coming to a stream, it
dropped her and fled upriver.
Roquana struggled towards the bank.
“No!” I shouted in her mind.
“Stay in the brook. They can’t follow your scent in
“Towards the road,” I said.
She followed the stream towards the road, ducking
low under the branches, till she came to an impassable tangle of
undergrowth and low boughs blocking the way. On the far bank she
spotted a tunnel through the brambles and took it. Behind us on
the far bank the dogs were casting around. The scent was
lost. She had escaped from the pursuers, but to what? The
creature that had tried to carry her off, what was it? She had
only caught a glimpse, but that was enough. Man-sized, but
covered in coarse hair: it could only have been a Toho. Lost in
the woods she was at the mercy of the savage flesh-eating apes.
What had I done? I had broken a cardinal law
of the Holy Inquisition by influencing my assigned subject. I had
acted instinctively from the best of motives to save her from rape, but
now I had brought her to the wild wooded jungles of Sunday, where
primeval creatures lurked and already she had had a close encounter
with a Toho. Well, I would have to stay with her now. I
would have to see what would happen to her, and to offer her what help
In the meantime the only thing for Roquana to do was
to get to the road and try to get back to her mother’s house in
Beddleham, though what good that would do her I could not imagine, for
when Lord Savark’s servants were sure that she was no longer in
the grounds of Savark Court, her mother’s house would be the
first place they would look. Nevertheless, I could think of no
better course of action, and, after all, that was where she had told
Tommuz she would be, and, if anyone could help her now it would be
Tommuz. Accordingly I raised no objection when she followed the
tunnel-like track through the woods in the direction of the road to
Somewhat to our surprise she found that the track
continued alongside the road just a little way inside the overgrown
forest. We both wondered if it had been made by Tohu – and
if Tohu used it regularly, but there was little or no advantage to
leaving it and following the road. That would have made detection
by passing carriages or by the helicopters that Lord Savark was sure to
send out, virtually certain, while at the same time a lone traveller on
the road would have been as obvious to the Tohu as one making her way
through the woodland undergrowth. There was no way of avoiding
the Tohu if they were about, but at least the track was hidden from
Lord Savark’s eyes.
Roquana was tired and hungry, but she kept going,
one foot in front of the other, yard by yard, fighting off her
exhaustion and trying to keep alert for the sounds of pursuit, dreading
at every moment that she might hear the ferocious roar of a band of
She made it. By dawn she was at
Beddleham. She lurked in the woods till the labourers came out
into the fields, then sauntered casually through the outer areas before
hurrying towards the gate. Once inside she flew along the narrow
streets, until, at last, she came to her mother’s house.
She approached cautiously, looking about her for strangers who might
have been spies for Lord Savark or Monsignor Gulls, then listened at
the door to make sure her mother was alone. All was quiet.
She went in.
Her mother was shocked to see her. Roquana
poured out her tale, sobbing and incoherent, but at last her mother
“You can’t stay here,” she
said. “This is the first place they’ll look.
You’ll have to go to New Jackrusselham and lose yourself in the
crowds there – and you can’t go the direct route because
that’s what they’ll expect. I’ll get Fronk to
help us. He owes me a favour or two. He’ll take you
by a roundabout route that they won’t expect, and if Tommuz shows
up here I’ll send him after you – but, before you go,
you’d better know the truth about yourself and your father.
“I wasn’t the daughter of a clergyman,
and I wasn’t seduced by a dentist. I was married to a civil
servant. I won’t tell you his name. If you
don’t know it the Inquisition can’t ferret it out from your
“Your father found out quite a lot that the
establishment wants to keep secret. I don’t know the
details, but he was archiving documents about the early stages of
exploration and development of Sunday and he began to suspect that our
world had been inhabited by intelligent life forms that had developed a
civilisation sometime in the past. He thought the Tohu might be
their descendents, and ought to have been given a share in the new
world, and that the Development Corporation were trying to exterminate
them to keep all the planet’s wealth for themselves. He
told his superior and was instructed to keep his nose out of matters
that didn’t concern him, then taken off the archive project and
moved to another department. He told me a bit about what
he’d discovered and said that he was going to try and inform the
Senate, but if things went wrong I was to take you and get out of New
Jackrusselham to one of the smaller settlements. We worked out
the story about the dentist, then he went off to the Senate, and that
was the last I ever saw of him.
“We need to get you away from here before they
come looking. Go to Fronk’s house. His truck will be
going in one of the convoys to Jarwick Hoe in the next day or
two. They won’t be looking in that direction. Then,
when you get to Jarwick Hoe you can find someone to take you to New
Jackrusselham. Go on! Go quickly.”
Roquana left and hurried through the streets down
towards the East Gate where the carriers had their yard. She
managed to get into Fronk’s office without speaking to anyone and
hoped that no-one would have noticed her particularly, just in case
Gulls sent anyone to ask around.
“Well, this is a surprise, my dear,”
said Fronk. “I heard you had been taken off to work for
Lord Savark. I didn’t think you’d want to be seen
with a common old bloke like me.”
“I don’t want to be seen at all,”
she said. “I’ve escaped. I won’t tell you
why, but they’re not good people out at Savark Court. Mum
said you might take me with you to Jarwick Hoe.”
“I’ll ask no more,” said
Fronk. “I’ll find some boys’ clothes for you
and pass you off as one of my loaders. Don’t you worry, my
dear: old Fronk’ll get you safely away.”
“My friend Tommuz may come looking for
me,” said Roquana. He was with me at Savark Court and I
told him I’d come back to Beddleham if anything happened.”
“Old Fronk’ll keep an eye out for
him,” said Fronk. “Now, m’dear. You curl
up in that corner there out o’the way and try and get some
sleep. You look all in, poor child. Get some sleep now,
an’ old Fronk’ll get you some shabby old boys’
clothes and something to eat, and we’ll join a convoy tomorrow
Some time later, when Fronk had bought her a couple
of sandwiches, there was a tap at his office door. He waved
Roquana into hiding and went to open it.
“Are you Fronk?” said a young
“I’m Tommuz. Mrs Smuff sent
“Ar. You have a message from Mrs
“She told me you’d help. I’m
“Who?” said Fronk in a puzzled
“It’s all right,”called
Roquana. “It is Tommuz.”
“Come in then,” said Fronk.
Tommuz and Roquana embraced, kissed and sobbed in
each other’s arms like the hero and heroine of some sentimental
romantic novel, then they poured out to each other the tale of their
experiences since they had last met, both talking at once, interrupting
each other, and generally confusing poor Fronk. There would be
little or no point in including a full description of their effusions
in this narrative, so I merely summarise Tommuz’s account.
He had, as Wullum told Roquana, been sent with an
under-butler to Beddleham to purchase more supplies of wine, beer,
sherry, port, gin and other alcoholic beverages, and on his return he
had been sent straight to the cellars to shelve the new supplies in the
correct places under the supervision of one of the cellarers.
After a couple of hours he was summoned to the main
entrance hall where he was informed by Monsignor Gulls that Lord Savark
had earlier that evening been taken suddenly ill and suffered a
collapse which had so alarmed Roquana, who had been with him at the
time, that she had run away, sobbing in terror, fearful that her
benefactor was about to die.
Here, of course Roquana interrupted with a confused
and tearful account of what had really taken place, and Tommuz
recounted various happening out of order, went back, corrected himself,
was interrupted, and so on. However, taking his account in the
correct order, as I reconstructed it in my mind: Gulls told him that
His Lordship had recovered, gone to bed, and would be none the worse by
the next morning. His concern, and that of the whole household,
was for Roquana. The girl was obviously hysterical with grief and
might easily blame herself for Lord Savark’s collapse, for no
other reason than that she had been with him at the time.
Gulls said that while he and the Chatelaine had been
attending to his Lordship and taking him back to his own house, the
other servants had instituted a search for Roquana. Finding no
trace of her in her room they had searched the house and garden.
Old Wullum had been summoned, since he was known to be friendly with
Roquana, and had very helpfully taken the searchers to all her
favourite places in the garden, to all the hidden nooks where she was
likely to have taken refuge, but the old fool was so confused that he
led them first to a copse on the west side, then to an arbour on the
east, then to a summerhouse by the lake, then to niche on the south
terrace, criss-crossing the garden in a totally random way, and thereby
wasting a great deal of very valuable time during which Roquana had
probably left the safety of the gardens and put herself in danger of
being carried off by the Tohu.
It was not until Gulls himself returned that the
search was put on a proper footing. Teams of searchers were sent
to comb the house and garden systematically, and the security staff
were called and instructed to bring out the hounds.
The hounds quickly picked up Roquana’s scent
and followed her trail out of the garden, across the meadow and into
the edge of the forest. There they had suddenly lost the scent
and so the security guards had returned to the house to report.
Gulls assumed that, if Roquana survived her night in
the wildwood, she would make for Beddleham, and that she might expect
to arrive the next morning. He proposed that, immediately after
breakfast, he and the Chatelaine should visit Roquana’s mother,
and that search-parties of footmen and security guards should comb
through the streets of Beddleham searching for any trace of the missing
girl and questioning the inhabitants. He hoped that Tommuz would
be willing to take part in that search – and Tommuz assured him
that he would. In the meantime the young man was free to roam the
gardens to search for her himself in case she had thought better of her
foolishness and doubled back to the safety of Savark Court, but, no
matter how concerned he was, he was not to leave the grounds.
It would be most unfortunate, Gulls told him, if the
search for poor Roquana had to be weakened by diverting people to
search for Tommuz if he went missing, and besides, the boundaries would
be patrolled all night by security guards with guns and instructions to
shoot anything that moved. His Lordship was very concerned lest
the night’s events might embolden the Tohu to raid the gardens,
so Tommuz would have to take great care not to venture out onto the
meadows. Tommuz could recognise a threat when he heard it and
promised to stay within the grounds.
He then began to question maids, footmen, gardeners,
gardeners’ boys and anyone else he met, asking when and where
they had last seen Roquana. At last Old Wullum approached him.
“Aar,” said the old gardener.
“I’ve been keeping out o’ the way till the watcher
had had enough.”
“Watcher?” Tommuz asked.
“Aye,” said the old man.
“There’s been a security man watching you and listening to
everything you’ve said. He’s decided at last that you
don’t know where Roquana is and gone off inside. Come over
here out o’ the way … now, Roquana’s gone over the
wall and into the woods, probably on her way back to Beddleham.
She was only half way across the meadow when they came out looking for
her, so I led them a merry dance, ha-ha, here, there and
everywhere. Stupid old Wullum
is what that there secretary called me, but Old Wullum’s not so
stupid that he can’t bamboozle a gang o’ footmen to help a
“Now, listen, young Tommuz, don’t you be
getting any ideas o’ going after her. Those guards’ll
probably shoot you if you leave the gardens, then claim they thought
you were a Toho. As for the Tohu, I don’t believe
they’re anywhere near as savage as the high-ups tell us, in fact,
if you want my opinion, they’re probably all just people like us
that have escaped from servitude. I reckon Roquana will get
safely to Beddleham by tomorrow morning, and that’s what they
reckon too. So you just stay around, get a bit o’ shut-eye
if you can, have some breakfast and join the search party. Take
my tip and put on a shirt and jeans under your footman’s
uniform. Slip off when you can and abandon your uniform, then try
to find your girl when the coast’s clear.”
“So that’s what I did,” said
Tommuz. “I yelled There
she is! and pelted off down a side street, got a bit of a start
on the others, hopped over a wall and hid till they’d gone by,
abandoned those awful plush breeches and that fancy coat in a dustbin,
hurried back the way I’d come, and asked for directions to your
“Monsignor Gulls and Madame LaTower were
there, and your mother was telling them you’d been home with some
cock-and-bull story about nasty goings-on at Savark Court, so
she’d called you an ungrateful hussy to slander your betters,
said she’d have nothing more to do with you, and sent you off to
the city gate to wait for people from Savark Court to come looking for
you, to beg their forgiveness and go back with them. She was so
fierce I thought she really meant it, and so did they, for off they
went back towards the gate.
“I just saw a quick change of your
mother’s expression as they went, a sort of fleeting glare as if
she hated them, but I still hesitated.
“Anyway, she saw me and yelled: You, boy! Come here! I need
someone to run down to the shop for me since I’ve got to stay
here in case that good-for-nothing daughter of mine comes back.
“So I followed her inside, and she suddenly
smiled and said, Are you Tommuz?
and told me she’d been keeping up an act because they probably
had someone watching the house. Then she told me where
you’d gone – and here I am.”
Please remember that this story is