The Emerald CrossChapter 10

Emily knew it would do no good to shout for help. She was at the top of the tower and no-one on the ground floor could possibly hear her; the music and noise of the party would effectively smother her screams. Her phone was in her bag which Jason had taken away with him. She was too far from the ground to make her escape through a window. She looked round the room. What was she to do? She knew her life would be in danger if she did not manage to escape before the end of the party. She went over to the fireplace. Would it be possible to get up the chimney? She imagined climbing up the soot-stained bricks, the chimney tapering as it soared higher and higher over the roof. Perhaps she would get stuck in the narrow opening and nobody would see her or hear her desperate cries.

She found that the chimney was blocked up; the house had had central heating put in and probably the old fireplaces were no longer used. The clock that stood on the mantelpiece said it was just after nine. How long did she have left before they came for her? Emily looked into the small vase from which Jason had taken the keys. At the bottom of the vase she saw something gleam. It was a tiny key.

The key looked much too small to fit the heavy wooden door, but Emily tried it in the lock anyway, with no success. She looked down at the little key in her hand. "I wonder if this could be the key to that locked drawer?" she thought. She turned the key in the lock of the desk drawer and heard a click as the drawer opened. Inside was a brown A4 envelope stuffed with several pages of yellowing paper. The top page was inscribed, Report on the Theft of the Irish Crown Jewels by Detective Inspector John Kane, Scotland Yard, 1907. She returned the pages to the envelope and put it on top of the desk. There was nothing else in the drawer.

Then she noticed, on a small stretch of wall between the fireplace and a tall bookcase, a round button mounted on a switchplate, something like the buttons in a lift. She pushed it to see if anything would happen. She jumped back in astonishment when the whole bookcase slowly and silently slid open like a door. There was a hidden room on the other side!

Could this be a way of escape? Hardly daring to hope, Emily ventured cautiously into the secret room. It was a long narrow room that took up one side of the tower. Lining one long wall was a bank of filing cabinets. Emily tried to open them without success; they were securely locked. At the far end was a door. As quietly as she could, Emily crept across the bare wood floor, praying that the door would not be locked. Turning the handle, she opened it just wide enough to peep through. It led to a narrow staircase that wound down to the lower levels of the house.

Emily went back to the library and grabbed the envelope containing John Kane's report which she had left on the desk. She went back to the secret room and pressed the switch on the other side to slide the bookcase into place behind her. Then she started down the winding stairs. At the bottom of the stairs was another door. Opening it cautiously she entered a small room. Luckily for her there was no-one in there at that moment. She noticed a computer on a table at the side of the room and was tempted to take a look at the files saved on it, but reflected that probably anything really incriminating would be encrypted or at least password protected. She didn't have time for that; she had to get out before she was caught by Jason and locked up again. Then she noticed, thrown carelessly on a chair, her little evening bag. She picked it up and opened it. Her phone was still inside! At last she could call for help.

She took out her phone and saw that she had a text from Danny. Without waiting to read it she called him. "Danny!" she whispered into the phone, "I need help. Where are you?"

"I'm parked right outside the gates of the house where the party is," he answered, "Do you want me to come in?"

"No! They've somehow found me out and I need to get away fast. I think I can get out of the front door without being caught. Can you drive down to the door and get me? But for God's sake, Danny, don't try and rescue me without back up! If I'm not out in three minutes, call for help."

She found that as she had expected the room she was in opened onto the front hallway. She was nervous as she passed the door to the large room where the party was in full swing, but the noise and the crowd made good cover for her hasty exit and very soon she was running down the steps to where Danny's car was coming up the drive. In a moment she was inside the car and they were driving back towards the centre of Dublin.

"OK, you were right," she said to Danny, "it was stupid to go to the party with him. I'm very glad we agreed that you would follow us in your car. If you hadn't been there I would have found it a lot harder to get away."

"I expect you would have managed somehow," he said. "But Emily - your face! Did they hit you?"

"It's not too bad. I might have some bruises, that's all." Emily told him how Jason had caught her in the library and locked her in.

"Did you find out anything useful?"

"I got this from a locked drawer in Belle Mahoney's desk," she said, holding up the envelope. "It's a report on the investigation into the theft of the Irish Crown Jewels. It's written by a Detective Inspector from Scotland Yard and dated a hundred years ago. We can read through it when we get back to headquarters. I want to get a warrant to search that house as soon as we can. And the next time I see Jason, it will be the other way round. I'll be locking him up."

Phoenix Park, Dublin