Elliott Price accepted the invitation for drinks at Sir Murray’s house with as much good grace he could muster. He was not in the mood for another one of Biggles interminable air force stories, told with ever-increasing grandiosity. Elliott’s disdain was made all the more profound by the news that they would be joined by a few of Regal Mortgage’s major clients. Ray Purvis, one of those clients, on the other hand was delighted to be invited.
Sir Murray St Clair lived in a modern split level home, clinging to the side of a steep hill that ran down to the harbour. The main entrance was on the central floor of the building, flanked on one side by a small formal library complete with pristine leather bound books. An inviting, though rarely visited, room with a permanently open door that visitors had to pass on their way to the large entertainment area.
The well-dressed and well-heeled guests, well-serviced by attractive waiters and waitress in smart uniforms, mingled in the main room and spilled out onto the tiled terrace with spectacular views across the harbour to the city.
An urgent and severe case of account shuffle at Purvis Holdings had delayed Ray’s departure so he arrived at Sir Murray’s drinkies a little late. Ray surveyed the room, grabbed a glass of champagne from a passing tray and made his way out onto the terrace.
Sir Murray and Elliott Price were standing by the terrace railings. Biggles, a few drinks over the limit, was in full flight when Ray joined them. A relieved Elliott turned to his rescuer and asked if there had been any progress on the purchase of the crystal shop.
“You bet, I got a call from Sky today,” Ray replied enthusiastically. “Thanks for putting a word in Elliott, your brother must said the right thing.”
“Actually Ray, I spoke to her myself,” Elliott said.
“Tops, she’s keen to sign … as soon as the crystals line up of course,” Ray added with a slight laugh.
“Too true,” Elliott smiled. “Got to have good vibrations”.
“So it’s chock away and tally ho eh?” Sir Murray gleefully raised his glass to toast his two companions. “No time to loose.”
The men drank to the removal of a significant stumbling block for the proposed shopping centre, which each hoped would bring financial salvation. As they drained their glasses, one of the waiters discreetly caught Sir Murray’s attention.
“Excuse me Sir. We’re almost out of champagne.”
“Can’t have that can we?” Sir Murray said, acknowledging the request. “Come on Purvis, I’ll show you my chilly treasure chest. Want to come along Elliott?”
“You’ve shown me before Sir Murray. I think I’ll stay up here in the warm.”
“Jolly good,” Biggles said with a smile. “Keep the sun behind you and watch for bandits, eh?” Both men laughed, one in pride the other in pity. Not a shared joke.
Sir Murray St Clair led his guest down to the basement. The men talked as they walked, Purvis seeking assurance and Sir Murray urging haste. As they entered the basement, Ray Purvis handed the chairman of Regal Mortgage an electronic funds transfer receipt for four and half million dollars, the money of course, paid directly to Sir Murray’s private company in Nassau.
“Good of you to be so prompt,” Sir Murray said slipping the document into his jacket pocket. “Of course it will take about two weeks to prepare the loan agreement and get it passed by the board.”
‘Will they be a problem?” Ray asked as a slight look of worry crossed his face.
“Good Lord, no! Everything is tickety-boo,” Sir Murray reassured his companion as he pulled open the door to a wine cellar that had been cut into side of the hill.
Ray Purvis looked around the cellar with its carefully labelled racks of wine. “Very impressive Sir Murray. You must like wine a lot; collecting it I mean,” he added hastily.
“Drinking it too, dear boy. The best of it’s in here though,” Sir Murray said with a chuckle as he led the way across the room to a thick, heavily insulated cool room door. Next to the door was an electronic numeric keypad.
“Read these out to me, there’s a good chap,” Sir Murray asked, passing a card to Ray Purvis. “Have to keep it written down. Can never remember the damn thing!”
As Purvis read out the numbers on the card, Sir Murray pushed the corresponding keys on the keypad. The lock clicked and Sir Murray pulled open the heavy door. A gust of cold, frosty air rushed out as the two men entered to collect some more champagne for the party upstairs.
In the next episode, “The Rules”, the Principal of Lusher’s College for Ladies announces Ruth and Jane will be competing in the state rowing championship and lays down the rules for the girls training.