During rehearsals, he had phoned his sister and invited her to join him for dinner after the show.
"How's it going?" Sarah had asked.
"Just fine," he replied, "but that's not the real reason I want you to come down. I need to discuss an important decision I've come to that will affect you, indeed the whole family."
By the time he put the phone down he was even more determined. He was going to stand up to Spencer Craig for the first time in his life, whatever the consequences. He knew he wouldn't be able to go through with it without Sarah's support, especially remembering her past relationship with Craig.
Rehearsals had been tiresome. In a play there's no second or third take should you forget a line or walk on stage at the wrong time. Davenport even began to wonder how he could hope to shine playing alongside actors who regularly appeared in the West End. But the moment the curtain rose on the first night it was clear that the theater was full of Dr. Beresford's fans, who hung on Lawrence's every word, laughed at his least amusing lines, and applauded every bit of business in which he was involved.
When Sarah dropped into his dressing room to wish him luck before the curtain went up, he reminded her that he had something of great importance to discuss over dinner. She thought he looked pale and a little tired, but put it down to first-night nerves.
"See you after the show," she said. "Break a leg."
When the curtain finally fell, Davenport knew he couldn't go through with it. He felt that he was back where he belonged. He tried to convince himself that he had a duty to take other people into consideration, not least his sister. After all, why should her career be harmed because of Spencer Craig?
Davenport returned to his dressing room to find it full of friends and admirers toasting his good health-always the first sign of a hit. He basked in the praise heaped upon him and tried to forget all about Danny Cartwright, who was, after all, nothing more than an East End thug who was probably best locked up in any case.
Sarah sat in the corner of the room, delighted by her brother's success, but wondering what he needed to discuss with her that was of such great importance.
Nick was surprised to find Danny still awake when the cell door was opened by Pascoe just after midnight. Although he was exhausted after the day's events and his long journey back to London, he was pleased to have someone to share his news with.
Danny listened attentively to all that had taken place in Scotland. Big Al lay facing the wall, and didn't speak.
"You would have been so much better at handling Munro than I was," said Nick. "To begin with, I doubt if you would have allowed my uncle to get away with stealing all that money." He was about to go into more detail about the meeting with his solicitor when he suddenly stopped and asked, "What are you looking so pleased about?"
Danny climbed off the bunk, slipped a hand under his pillow and extracted a small cassette tape. He put it in his cassette player and pressed play.
"Whit's yer name?" inquired a man with a thick Glaswegian accent.
"Toby, Toby Mortimer," responded a voice that had clearly been raised in a different environment.
"So how did ye end up in here?"
"The worst. Heroin. I used to need the stuff twice a day."
"Then ye must be pleased we got ye on a detox program."
"It's not proving that easy," said Toby.
"And whit aboot that load of shite ye told me yisterday? Wis I expected tae believe aw that?"
"It's all true, every word. I just needed you to understand why I dropped out of the program. I saw my friend stab a man, and I should have told the police."
"Why didn't ye?"
"Because Spencer told me to keep my mouth shut."
"My friend, Spencer Craig. He's a barrister."
"An you expect me tae believe that a barrister knifed someone he'd never met before?"
"It wasn't as simple as that."
"I bet the polis thought it wis as simple as that."
"Yes, they did. All they had to do was choose between a lad from the East End and a barrister who had three witnesses to say he wasn't even there." The tape was silent for several seconds before the same voice said, "But I was there."
"So whit really happened?"
"It was Gerald's thirtieth birthday and we'd all had a bit too much to drink. That's when the three of them walked in."
"Three of them?"
"Two men and a girl. It was the girl who was the problem."
" Wis it the girl who started the fight?"
"No, no. Craig fancied the girl the moment he set eyes on her, but she wasn't interested, which really pissed him off."
"So hur boyfriend started the fight?"
"No, the girl made it obvious that she wanted to leave, so they slipped out the back door."
"Intae an alley?"
"How did you know that?" asked a surprised-sounding voice.
"Ye told me yisterday," said Big Al, recovering from his mistake.
"Oh, yes." Another long silence. "Spencer and Gerald ran round to the back of the pub the moment they left, so Larry and I went along for the ride. But then it got out of control."
"Who wis tae blame fur that?"
"Spencer and Gerald. They wanted to pick a fight with the two yobs and assumed we'd back them up, but I was too spaced out to be of any use, and Larry doesn't go in for that sort of thing."
"The soap star?" said Big Al, trying to sound surprised.
"Yes. But he and I just stood around and watched when the fight broke out."
"So it wis yer friend Spencer who wis looking fur a fight?"
"Yes. He's always fancied himself as a boxer, got a blue at Cambridge, but those two lads were in a different class. That was until Spencer pulled out the knife."
"Spencer had a knife?"
"Yes, he picked it up from the bar before he went into the alley. I remember him saying, 'Just in case.' "
"An he'd nae seen the two men or the girl before?"
"No, but he still fancied his chances with the girl, until Cartwright got the better of him. That's when Spencer lost his temper and stabbed him in the leg."
"But he didnae kill him?"
"No, just stabbed him in the leg, and while Cartwright was nursing his wound, Spencer stabbed the other guy in the chest." It was some time before the voice said, "And killed him."
"Did ye call the polis?"
"No, Spencer must have done that later, after he told us all to go home. He said that if anyone asked any questions, we were to say we'd never left the bar, and didn't see anything."
"And did anyone ask any questions?"
"The police came round to my place the next morning. I hadn't slept, but I didn't let on. I think I was more frightened of Craig than the police, but it didn't matter anyway, because the detective in charge of the investigation was convinced he'd arrested the right man."
The tape ran for several more seconds before Mortimer's voice added, "That was over two years ago, and not a day goes by when I don't think about that lad. I've already warned Spencer that as soon as I'm fit enough to give evidence..." The tape went dead.