Ms. Madison and the Rev. Samuelson waited in the dark, scracely daring to breathe, as they listened for whoever had caused the lights to go out.
"Of course, it could just be a normal power outage," the venerable cleric began.
"But I won't believe that in a million years," Ms. Madison sighed. "We're bait in a trap, Reverend, "the Green Man's trap, I'll admit, but still a trap. The Order are supposed to find us and make an attempt to wipe us out."
"Just like the others..." the clergyman groaned. "Why didn't you tell me before?"
"Easy," Ms. Madison rose to her feet, "because you'd 've refused."
The aged clergyman's silence confirmed this point. And it was at this moment that Ms. Madison's acute hearing picked up a soft footfall outside the library door. She tensed, adopting a fighting stance. Whatever she might have on, even if it was only a nightie and dressing-gown, she was going to show them what it meant to tangle with the Green Man's people. She only wished she could see enough to be able to chance a shot or two with the tiny (and very illegal) pocket pistol the Green Man had given her.
As the door creaked open, Ms. Madison drew back, she head the heaver tread of the Reverend, as he, too, drew back. She just saw movement in the open door, as someone crept stealthily inside. She could not but think of a scene from a nightmare. Just a movement in the darkness...
Somewhere, out in the grounds, she heard the roar of a gun. The figure in the shadows started, giving away his position. Ms. Madison moved swiftly, her little fist making contact with the robed figure's stomach. A few more blows determined what was where. Taken by surprised, the man crumpled to the ground, very unconscious. Ms. Madison smiled, knowing that she'd scored a small victory. And that it wasn't bad for a secretary.
Then a heavy fist struck her in the mouth. Ms. Madison span around, her head swimming. A second blow left her gasping, the iron tang of blood in her mouth. She was able to dodge a third from that source, but into a blow from another man caught her on the jaw, and she went down, her head buzzing.
"You have tried to find the secrets of the Order of Cain," someone spoke, planting a foot on Ms. Madison's throat. "Like those others who came before you, you will die."
The lights came up suddenly, and three shots rang out. The man whose foot was on Ms. Madison's throat fell over. Ms. Madison just lay there, feeling wretched. Soon, she felt a shadow fall over her. She opened her eyes again, her head still buzzing. She saw a dark gown and high-heeled shoes. And a large and threatening automatic.
"Andrea..." the blonde groaned, looking up into the smiling face of the mysterious red-head.
"You're a mess," the redhead shook her head, still smiling. "Did you know you've got a load of blood all over your nightie?"
"I don't know much right now," Ms. Madison confessed. "Apart from the buzzing in my head.
"Reverend!" Andrea called out, "get a cushion! Ms. Madison's hurt!" There was real concern in her voice, and Ms. Madison appreciated that.
Then the redhead picked up the 'phone and called a number which changed on a regualr basis.
Moments later, the lights went down again, and the Green Man strode into the library.
"All done?" the Green Man asked.
"All done," Andrea confirmed. "There's enough in those documents to blow the Order of Cain wide open."
"Reverend Samuelson?" The Green Man spoke to the retired vicar.
"No," the reverend gentleman shook his head emphatically. "This mass of paper tells us nothing. If I were to judge by all this alone, I should say that there's no secret at all guarded by the Order of Cain.
"Fascinating," the Green Man observed. "Is there anything that you have learned?"
"We know where the old secret cell was," Ms. Madison spoke from her position on the floor. "It was located in Ringstead, just up the coast from here."
"Well done!" the Green Man spoke emphatically. "You can have a bonus for that. Andrea, Ms. Madison, tomorrow, you will leave for Ringstead."
"And right now," Ms. Madison sighed, "I'm going to lose consciousness...
Which she did.