ALEX WAS LOOKING across the Thames at the London Eye when she arrived. He rose from the bench to greet her.
"Have you ever been on the Eye?" he asked as she sat down beside him.
"Yes, once," said Beth. "I took my father on it when it first opened. You used to be able to see our garage from the top."
"It won't be that long before you'll be able to see Wilson House," said Alex.
"Yes. It was kind of the developer to name the building after my dad. He'd have enjoyed that," said Beth.
"I have to be back in court by two o'clock," said Alex. "But I needed to see you urgently, as I have some news."
"It was good of you to give up your lunch break."
"I had a letter this morning from the Lord Chancellor's office," said Alec, "and he's agreed to reopen the case." Beth threw her arms around him. "But only if we can supply some fresh evidence."
"Wouldn't the tape be considered as fresh evidence?" asked Beth. "There's been mention of it in both local papers since we launched the campaign to have Danny pardoned."
"I'm sure they'll take it into consideration this time, but if they believe the conversation was recorded under duress, they'll have to discount it."
"But how will anyone be able to prove that either way?" asked Beth.
"Do you remember that Danny and Big Al shared a cell with a man called Nick Moncrieff?"
"Of course," said Beth. "They were good friends. He taught Danny to read and write and even attended his funeral, although none of us were allowed to speak to him."
"Well, some weeks before Moncrieff was released, he wrote to me offering to help in any way he could, as he was convinced Danny was innocent."
"But there are countless people who believe Danny is innocent," said Beth, "and if you felt Big Al would have made a bad witness, why should Nick be any different?"
"Because Danny once told me that Moncrieff kept a diary while he was in prison, so it's possible that the tape incident has been recorded. Courts take diaries very seriously, because they're contemporaneous evidence."
"Then all you have to do is get in touch with Moncrieff," said Beth, unable to hide her excitement.
"It's not quite that simple," said Alex.
"Why not? If he was so keen to help..."
"Not long after his release he was arrested for breaking his parole."
"So is he back inside?" asked Beth.
"No, that's the strange thing. The judge gave him one last chance. He must have had a hell of a lawyer defending him."
"Then what's to stop you trying to get hold of his diaries?" asked Beth.
"It's possible that after his latest brush with the law, he might not welcome a letter from a lawyer he's never met, asking him to become involved in yet another court case."
"Danny said you could always rely on Nick, come hell or high water."
"Then I'll write to him today," said Alex.
Danny picked up the phone.
"Payne transferred six hundred thousand pounds by wire this morning," said the voice, "so if he pays the remaining five million four hundred thousand by the end of the week, the velodrome site will be his. I thought you'd want to know that we've had another bid in this morning for ten million, which of course we had to turn down. I hope you know what you're doing." The line went dead. It was the first time the voice had offered an opinion on anything.
Danny dialed the number of his bank manager at Coutts. He was about to convince Payne that the deal couldn't fail.
"Good morning, Sir Nicholas. How can I help you?"
"Good morning, Mr. Watson. I want to transfer a million pounds from my current account to Baker, Tremlett and Smythe's client account."
"Certainly, sir." There was a long pause before Mr. Watson added, "You do realize that will leave your account overdrawn?"
"Yes, I do," said Danny, "but it will be covered on October first when you receive the monthly check from my grandfather's trust."
"I'll do the paperwork today and be back in touch," said Mr. Watson.
"I don't care when you do the paperwork, Mr. Watson, as long as the full amount is transferred before close of business this evening." Danny replaced the receiver. "Damn," he said. Not the way Nick would have behaved in the circumstances. He must quickly return to Nick mode. He swung round to see Molly standing in the doorway. She was shaking, and seemed unable to speak.
"What's the matter, Molly?" asked Danny, jumping up from his chair. "Are you all right?"
"It's him," she whispered.
"Him?" said Danny.
"That Dr. Beresford. You know, Lawrence Davenport."
"Is it, indeed," said Danny. "You'd better show him into the drawing room. Offer him some coffee and tell him I'll be with him in a moment."
As Molly ran downstairs, Danny made two new entries in the Payne file before placing it back on the shelf. He then took down the Davenport file and quickly brought himself up to date.
He was just about to close it when his eye caught a note under the heading Early life which caused him to smile. He replaced the file on the shelf and went downstairs to join his uninvited guest.
Davenport leaped up as Danny entered the room, and this time he did shake hands. Danny was momentarily taken aback by his appearance. He was now clean-shaven, and wearing a well-tailored suit and a smart open-necked shirt. Was he about to return the £300,000?
"Sorry to barge in on you like this," said Davenport. "I wouldn't have done so if it wasn't a bit of an emergency."
"Please don't concern yourself," said Danny as he sat in the chair opposite him. "How can I help?"
Molly placed a tray on the side table and poured Davenport a cup of coffee.
"Cream or milk, Mr. Davenport?" she asked.
"Neither, thank you."
"Sugar, Mr. Davenport?"
"No, thank you."
"Would you like a chocolate biscuit?" asked Molly.
"No, thank you," Davenport said, patting his stomach.
Danny sat back and smiled. He wondered if Molly would be quite so awestruck if she realized that she had just served the son of a car-park attendant with the Grimsby Borough Council.
"Well, just let me know if you want anything else, Mr. Davenport," said Molly before backing out of the room, having quite forgotten to offer Danny his usual hot chocolate. Danny waited for the door to close. "Sorry about that," he said. "She's normally quite sane."
"Don't worry, old chap," said Davenport. "One gets used to it."
Not for much longer, thought Danny. "Now, how can I help?" he asked.
"I want to invest a rather large sum of money in a business venture. Only temporary, you understand. Not only will I repay you within a few weeks at the outside, but," he said, looking up at the McTaggart above the fireplace, "I'll also be able to reclaim my paintings at the same time."
Danny would have been sad to lose his recent acquisitions, as he'd been surprised how quickly he'd become attached to them. "I'm sorry, how thoughtless of me," he said, suddenly aware that the room was full of Davenport 's old pictures. "Be assured, they will be returned the moment the loan is repaid."