The Emerald CrossChapter 16

Liam produced the photocopies he'd made from Miss Mainwaring's diary. "I was lucky to find this. It puts the whole case in a new light. It's a diary for 1907 written by the daughter of Shackleton's friend in Italy. There are three entries that mention Frank Shackleton."

July 21st 1907

An interesting young man has come to stay in our house for the summer. He is Francis Shackleton, the younger brother of the famous explorer Sir Ernest. At dinner today he carried on a most tedious conversation with Father, right through the first two courses, all about financial matters, with the Bank and the City playing a big part. Mama and I did not understand a word of it but later we had our revenge, when Mama took advantage of a moment of silence to ask a question on the very important subject of the latest fashions in London. Our visitor proved to us that his knowledge was happily not limited to the world of business and described for us in detail the clothes recently worn by fashionable ladies of his acquaintance in London and Dublin. As his friends include the Duke of Argyll and his wife Princess Louise, Lord Gower and Lord and Lady Aberdeen, Mama and I could be sure we were getting an insight into the very heart of the fashionable world.

August 10th 1907

I had a long talk with Mr Shackleton this afternoon. I asked him why he was here in this hot dry place when Ireland sounds so cool and green! He said I wouldn't believe him if he told me the truth, it would sound too much like a cheap novel. I insisted on hearing more and he told me he was trying to track down some stolen jewels, which he believed had been brought to Italy. If he found them he would take them back to their rightful owners in Ireland. He hadn't had much success, he told me, and was almost ready to give up and go home empty handed. I am not sure if I believe this story though I would not accuse Mr Shackleton of lying. I think he was having fun making up a story to amuse me. It is obvious he thinks I am still a child although I am nearly 16. I expect he is really here on some boring business to do with banking and investments, the kind of thing he is always talking about with Father.

August 25th 1907

Yesterday evening we went to a grand dinner given by Count Silvio at his villa. I wore my new pink dress and white shoes as we were going in the carriage. I was given a glass of wine which I am not allowed at home. The dinner was very good and the iced dessert was delicious. Mr Shackleton went with us and seemed very impatient to meet the Count. He said they had met briefly the last time he was in Italy. However when the Count finally made his entrance to the salon he completely failed to recognise him. Even when Father introduced him to the Count, he muttered to himself, "No, no, that is not the man." I only managed to hear this because I was sitting next to him. He spent some time in conversation with the Count's estate manager, an Irishman like himself. Though Father did tell me that Mr Shackleton is only half Irish!

Emily read the three diary extracts and passed them to Danny. In return she showed Liam the report written by John Kane of Scotland Yard. "You are right, Liam, this does give us a new angle. It's possible that Shackleton's accomplice tricked him and went to Italy with the jewels. I suppose it's also possible that he was innocent of the crime and genuinely hoped to find the thief and return the jewels to Dublin Castle. If that's the case, he must have suspected this Count Silvio until he found he had made a mistake and the Count was not the man he thought he knew. If you look at Kane's report, it's obvious that Kane suspects the name Count Silvio is a false one, an alias for Shackleton's accomplice. He also suspects the same man of impersonating an antique dealer named Hodgson."

"But if this accomplice was posing as Hodgson while staying at the hotel, why didn't Shackleton ask for him by that name?" Liam asked.

Emily had an idea. "Wait a minute! Is it possible that the man really was Hodgson, but for some reason he pretended to Shackleton that he was Count Silvio? That would explain Shackleton's bewilderment when he met the real Count in Italy. An antique dealer would be very well placed to find a buyer for the stolen jewels!"

"Are you saying Shackleton could be innocent?" asked Danny.

"It looks as if he might have been. But whoever committed the crime certainly had help from someone who knew the Office of Arms very well. If it wasn't Shackleton, who could it possibly have been?"

They were interrupted by Emily's phone. It was Jim. "I've lost Jason Doyle. Sorry, Emily, he got away from me."

"It's a shame you couldn't keep track of him. He's probably gone to warn the rest of the gang. Then I imagine he'll head for wherever he's hidden his false passport. I know from what I overheard that it's not at his flat."

"Do you have any idea where it might be? You know more about him than any of us."

"The only place I can think of is the Kendo club. He has a locker there. It would be a perfect place to hide anything he didn't want to leave at his home. I'll go there now with Danny and Liam, you get a couple of uniformed men and join us."

With Danny driving, they sped through the traffic to the Dublin Kendo club. As they were going in they met the Sensei who was just leaving.

"Have you seen Jason Doyle?" Emily asked.

"Yes, I was just talking to him. He came in a few minutes ago."

They hurried along the corridor but by the time they turned the corner and could see the lockers, there was no sign of Jason. One locker stood open, and when Liam ran up to it he found the key still in the lock. The locker was empty.

"He must have gone into the men's changing rooms," Emily said, "I know he didn't go past us. If he had finished changing and walked out through the front door we would have seen him. You two men had better take it from here. I'm a club member here and it would be embarrassing for the men I train with if I walked in while they were changing."

She waited in the corridor while Danny and Liam went to search the men's changing room and showers. It occurred to her that there was another way to get out of the club. If she followed the corridor she was standing in to the other end she would reach the big double door that was the entrance to the Kendo Museum. She remembered the night of the opening party. She was sure she had seen a sign pointing the way to a fire exit. If Jason had been in the corridor at the right time to overhear the few words she had exchanged with the Sensei, he would know that the Garda were coming in after him. He would be searching desperately for another way out. Even now, she thought, Jason might be making his escape from the club, never to be seen again! She could not let him give her the slip for a third time. Taking out her gun, Emily moved swiftly towards the museum door.

She entered the museum cautiously, realising with some surprise that the lights in the room were off. A skylight let in a few weak rays from the setting sun. Before her eyes could adjust, the gun was knocked out of her hand with a ringing sound of clashing steel. She saw Jason raising a sword for the blow that would finish her off. Just in time she jumped to one side as the sharp steel blade sliced through the air where she had been standing. She darted behind a glass case, wanting to put something solid between herself and the edge of the sword. There was a pair of swords mounted on the wall. If she could just get one of them into her hand! She couldn't see what had happened to her gun. Jason's next blow shattered the glass case and he pushed through the space where it had been, oblivious to the scratches on his hands from flying glass shards. She ran towards the door but Jason was there before her. He stood in front of the door, sword raised to bar the way. Hoping to get away she ran to the other end of the gallery. There she found the light switches and switched them on. With a hum the lights came on. Jason, coming after her, found himself almost blinded by the sudden light. He had been hiding in the dark for too long.

This gave Emily a chance to take down one of the old Japanese swords that hung on the wall of the museum. It was a good thing she had not missed any practice sessions. Now her life depended on her Kendo skills. Without wasting any time she drew the sword from its sheath of lacquered wood and stepped forward to meet his attack.

He aimed a blow at her head that she only just managed to block. She moved as he struck again and heard the steel blade whipping through the air, almost touching her ear. She tried for his wrist, hoping to knock the sword out of his hand as he had knocked her gun out of hers. He blocked the blow clumsily and the sword tore through his shirt and nicked his arm. For a moment he looked amazed at the sight of blood on his shirt. Then with a shout he renewed his attack. With blow after heavy blow he forced her back against a glass exhibit case. With another shout he swung his sword in a sideways stroke that could have cut her in half had she not at the last moment moved out of its path. The steel sword hit the glass case which smashed into fragments. The exhibit inside, a heavy suit of Samurai armour, fell to the floor with a loud jangling crash. Emily heard shouts from outside and then Danny and Liam ran into the room, guns drawn.

"Put your weapon down and put your hands up!" Danny shouted.

Jason saw the guns and slowly lowered his sword. There was a clang as the steel blade dropped to the floor.

"Jason Doyle, you are under arrest on charges of terrorism and attempted murder of a Garda officer," Emily said. "You'll be going to prison for a long time."

They heard the sound of running footsteps in the corridor outside. Hearing the sounds of the fight had guided Jim and three other officers to their location. They carefully kept their guns pointed at Jason as they took him outside to their car. He would be given no chance to escape again.

"My arms ache," said Emily, as they followed them back to Garda Headquarters in Danny's car, "it's a good thing I've been practising regularly, or I couldn't have kept up the fight for so long."

Just then she got a call on her mobile from Garda Headquarters. It was good news; Belle Mahoney had confessed to giving support to a terrorist organisation. She had revealed details of their plot to disrupt the peace talks with strategically placed bombs and had given away the location of the new headquarters of the Secret IRB. This was where they had taken the files that were missing from the cabinets in the secret room at her home. When these were found there would be plenty of evidence to convict the whole gang.

"Good work, team!" said Emily.

River Liffey, Dublin