“That’s right, Tomcat, plus having read all the police notes I don’t think they know who the opposition is any more than we do.”

        “That’s interesting to hear – so we presume Stalky and his wife were and are working for the opposition, so Miss Scarlett can’t be as she wouldn’t muffle one of her own side, would she?” Tompkins crossed his fingers he was right on this last guess.

        “Probably not, but we can’t be 100% certain, they might be ruthless even with members of their own side.”

        “This is true, anyway while Miss Scarlett is doing her work, I was thinking of heading around to Dapper Dan’s place to see his guestbook. He always liked people to sign in when they visited him, and I would be interested on who’s seen him recently.”

        “Sign in, why would he want that?”

        “Well, Toby, if he ever felt lonely in his dotage then he could see he was popular once – it was only the chaps who signed in, never the ladies unless they were part of a larger group, if you see what I mean.”

        “Understood, Tomcat, well I will keep monitoring the Dapper Dan situation up in Lewis.”

        “Yes, thank you, I should get around there pronto,” said Tompkins. With that he checked his shoelaces and then did 50 press-ups on the rug before heading out of Aunt Jemima’s and round to Dapper Dan’s place.

        Tompkins ran along the pavements with his usual effortless grace before pounding his fist on the front door of Dapper Dan’s home. A saturnine figure opened the door, whom Tompkins recognised as Selkirk, Dapper Dan’s man of over 10 years.

        “Hello Selkirk, how are you bearing up under the circumstances?” boomed Tompkins.

        “Do come in, Mr. Tompkins,” replied Selkirk, allowing his visitor to enter the house before replying, “it’s been a shock and Mr. Dan’s family are devastated. They are coming here to get some of his things tomorrow, but they’re more concerned about how Mr. Dan died and what he was doing on the island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.”

        “Well, commiserations to Dan’s family – I am sure the police will be sniffing around them fairly soon, as for the island of Lewis, do you know anything. You can tell me, y’know Selkirk, I won’t be a snitch.”

        “Well, Mr. Tompkins, speaking frankly as I know I can to you, Mr. Dan has never been to The Outer Hebrides, The Inner Hebrides, or any other Hebrides in between, he didn’t even like Fingal’s Cave by Mendelssohn, sir, but he admired the Lewis Chessmen and exhibited a set in the Drawing Room.”

        “May I see them, Selkirk?”

        “Of course, Mr. Tompkins, they’re through here as you know.”

        Tompkins walked around to the Drawing Room and looked at the set, laid out on a heavy stone chessboard, with the first move played by White – pawn to E4. Dapper Dan did this in the hope someone would play the black pieces. This had been done, with a different set of chessmen, by an unknown opponent. The reply was made on beach 700 miles away.

        “Who has visited Dan recently, do you have the visitor book?” asked Tompkins.

        “Yes, sir, and I made sure everyone signed it.” Selkirk handed the black leather-bound A3-sized ledger to Tompkins, who held out both hands to receive it. This book had meant a lot to The Dapper One and Tompkins treated the visitor record with respect, especially as the name of the villain who’d kidnapped Dan was contained inside.

        “Is there a possibility I could have a tisane, Selkirk? Something with berries in it?” asked Tompkins, who really wanted to be alone for a few minutes to leaf through the pages. He’d recently started to enjoy fruit teas, especially those with berries which gave him so much vitality.