Andrea and Ms. Madison looked up at the sign of the ancient, long and low-lying inn. It read 'The Gin Trap.'
"Looks like they've got an order out against tippler," Andrea laughed. "Or do you think they're really into debauching the morals of the locals and some artist-errant stepped in?"
"Artists," Ms. Madison frowned, "are never errant. Except that they err a lot, at least around pretty blondes." Dressed in a sweater and slacks, with a sweet yachting cap on her golden curls, Ms. Madison looked refreshingly informal.
"That's what you get for being blonde," Andrea laughed. "Most of the wolves are scared of redheads."
"So, you're American, are you?" Ms. Madison returned to the personal tack she'd been trying ever since the two girls had set off from Samuelson's house.
"Possibly," Andrea remained infuriating. "But perhaps not. I was travelled a lot when I was young."
"I only recently took up travelling," Ms. Madison confessed. "The Green Man's told me all about you, but I didn't think we'd ever actually meet. He likes to keep things seperate, after all."
"Things and people," Andrea nodded. "Now, shall we call in at this hotel and pretend to be two girl tourists?"
"So long as the Green Man's paying," Ms. Madison smiled. "See, I'm afraid I'm broke right now. Heavy month and all that."
"Meaning a trip to Paris," Andrea smiled. "You really must watch out, Ms. Madison."
"Lynette, please," the young woman protested. "We are colleagues, after all."
"Sure," Andrea nodded. "Now, let's get something to eat - I'm famished!"
The girls both checked hidden weapons, Ms. Madison the small automatic she had, Andrea her rather more powerful weapon. After all, Ringstead was where the enemy had once had their seat. Indeed, given the remoteness of the village, there was every possiblity of it still being their headquarters. But that, of course, was why the two girls were there.
The lack of armed monkish figures when they walked into the bar reassured the two girls enormously, as did the friendly expression on the face of the landlord. Here, at least, it seemed that there was no cold shoulder for outsiders.
The girls ordered a couple of drinks, then sat down by the window, glad of the safe surroundings, and considering their next move. They were still wondering whento start when Andrea began to fidget, playing with her collar. Ms. Madison could see beads of perspiration on the redhead's face. And no wonder, for the room was definitely heating up.
"What's up?" she asked. Her voice seemed very faint and far away.
She never even heard Andrea's reply, for darkness claimed her.