IT WAS LATE MORNING by the time we arrived home. I opened the front door quietly, hoping we might get upstairs without Joan seeing our sorry condition, but paused at the sight of a note in Godfrey's large round hand on the table. I broke the seal.
'Bealknap's back!' I said. 'He's in his chambers. Thank God, I feared he might be-' I did not finish the sentence.
'Let's get a message to Leman then,' Barak said, 'and go to Lincoln's Inn.'
Just then Joan appeared from the kitchen, alerted by our voices. Her eyes widened at the state we were in.
'Sir, what's happened now?' There was a slight quaver in her voice. 'When you didn't come back last night I was worried.'
'There's been a bad fire over at Queenhithe,' I said gently. 'We were caught up in it, but we're all right. I'm sorry, Joan, there have been many turmoils this week.'
'You look worn out, sir. What happened to your hair, Master Barak?'
'It got singed. I look monstrous, hey?' He gave her his most charming smile. 'What I need is someone to cut the other side, so I don't frighten the children.'
'I could have a try.'
'You are a pearl among women, Mistress Woode.'
While Joan fetched some scissors and took Barak up to his room, I scribbled a note to Leman and gave it to a wide-eyed Simon to take to Cheapside. Then I went up. I shut my bedroom door and leaned on it wearily. Guy's words about the nature of my mission returned to me. I had been too tired, too frightened for myself and the others involved, to think much further than uncovering the conspirators. But what if I were to succeed? What if the time came when the Greek Fire formula was in my hands? What would I do then? I remembered poor Bathsheba's words. A plot against Lord Cromwell. Just what had Michael and his brother planned that had been interrupted by their deaths? I shook my head. For now there was nothing to do but go on, beard Bealknap in his den now I had the chance. It was the fifth of June, I realized, only five days left.