As a result of Inspector Andrew’s initiative, a round-the-clock- police watch has been placed on Sir Gilbert’s estate and the surrounding area. The first Saturday morning of this régime saw Constable Roland Smallbottom on duty at the main gate. On hearing the sound of a vehicle, he emerged from the gatehouse to investigate. Marlborough, one of Sir Gilbert’s dogs, appeared from some bushes and bounded over to join him.
Outside the entrance, on the other side of the makeshift security barrier, was a stationary, driverless van. Constable Smallbottom regarded it suspiciously.
The constable was concerned. Was this something sinister? There was no-one in sight and the back of the van was locked. Who knew what could be in there? Obviously, he couldn’t force an entrance (it was private property after all) so he decided to report to his sergeant from the telephone in the gatehouse.
Passing back through the barrier, he encountered Stirrup, Sir Gilbert’s valet, who was looking for Marlborough, the labrador. Smallbottom told the valet about the van and his fears were immediately put to rest.
“No need for concern, Rollo old chap. It’s only The Honourable Freddie.” Seeing the quizzical look on the constable’s honest face, Stirrup continued “He’s just back from Spain. Brought a couple of chums with him and wants to help Sir G. He’s a terror for getting after these here fascists; oh dear me, a real terror. A relation of Lady Hill he is. He’s up by the house now, showing off the hardware he brought with him from Spain.”
Constable Smallbottom was relieved that the mystery was cleared up and that he didn’t have to single-handedly tackle a van full of BUF storm troops. Later on, when his stint was over, he wandered up to the house to view the reboubtable Freddie and his hardware. Whilst welcoming the constable with typical affability, The Honourable Freddie took care to conceal the nature of his hardware from him; a chap can’t be too careful in war.
Freddie is the son of Lady Hill’s cousin Sir Rufus Pitt-Bulstrode, Squire of Much Rampling in Borsetshire. He’s an adventurous sort of chap and has recently been in Spain fighting for the Republicans. Hearing of events in England he hurried home and was pleased to learn of Sir Gilbert’s taking up of arms. With two companions, he travelled to Pontrilas to offer his services to Sir G. Initially, his companions were viewed with suspicion by the naturally conservative Sir Gilbert but Freddie breezily reassured him.
“Don’t concern yourself dear relative, these boys are POUM through and through.” Seeing Sir Gilbert’s lack of comprehension he continued “Not communists you see. Well not Communist party. Hate the CP as much as the bally BUF so no need to worry – they won’t cause any fluttering in the dovecots.”
And with that, Sir Gilbert had to be satisfied and, bearing in mind the hardware they brought with them, he considered that they were a definite bonus.
If only the blighters spoke English.