And the Nun Sang Plaisir d'Amour
Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : A.J. Matthews
Word Count :42103
Publication Date :2021-10-22
Series : Veronica Nash#6
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-4874-3255-3
The hills are alive with the sound of mayhem.
Veronica and Claire head for Derbyshire on a Home Office mission to spy on the Willow Woofs—an eccentric back-to-nature group. There’s something rotten behind their quaint facade, but what can it be?
Tuesday, 31st March 1925.
“So, Tommy, you asked us here because…”
Veronica eyed her older brother, sitting across from her and Claire in the informal conversation area of his large and impressive office. A nice fire burned in the hearth, its warmth welcome on such a cold, dry, and windy day.
“Not that we aren’t glad to see you, old chap,” Claire added, balancing her teacup on her knee.
Tommy gave her a prim smile. “Thank you, Miss Sibfield-Murray.”
“Claire. Just so.” He dabbed at his moustache with a napkin and laid it aside. “When I telephoned you two this morning, it was with the aim of asking you to do the Home Office a favour.”
Alerted by his tone, Veronica glanced at Claire. “Such as…”
“Such as for you to do a little espionage on our behalf.”
“Espionage?” She shifted in her chair. “I’m not at all sure I’m cut out for the spying game, Tommy. I have little John to think of now, you know.”
“I know. Rest assured, I would not place you or my nephew in danger.”
“I know, and I’m glad to hear it. Besides, why on earth would you ask a civilian to do this? Are there not whole gangs of professional spies you could call upon? I thought the woods are full of ’em.”
“Regrettably, no. There are few resources available at the moment. Budget cuts affect even national security, I’m afraid. As it happens, my original intention has become moot. I…am no longer in a position to offer you the mission.”
Claire chuckled. “Well, isn’t that a hoot! Darling, we’re sacked before getting the job.”
Veronica smiled and shook her head.
Tommy’s prim smile flickered again. “That is to say, I’m unable to ask you, Ronnie dear, to lend us your aid.”
She sat back. “Oh? Why is that?”
Tommy looked embarrassed. “I regret that when I raised the idea of your participation in the mission, it was vetoed by Special Branch not thirty minutes ago.”
She blinked. “The police’s national security division?” She glanced at Claire, who looked equally baffled. “What on earth have I done to upset them?”
“It seems they object to your membership of the Labour Party. They think it would make you…biased.”
“Oh, for God’s sake!” Claire huffed. “They really think Ronnie could turn into a bomb-throwing nihilist? Does her British Empire Medal count for nothing? Mr. Baldwin himself pinned that award on her chest, you know.”
“I know. It should count for something, I agree. I hesitate to ascribe any reasons to Special Branch’s way of thinking, but their refusal to countenance your participation, Veronica, is adamant.”
“Huh! I’m not sure I’d volunteer to do anything for this government after they played up that Zinoviev Letter nonsense. That letter was patently fake, yet it cost Labour the chance to show how it could govern.”
Tommy made a soothing gesture. “Be that as it may, old thing, the voting public had their say, the Tories are now in government, and they call the tune. That’s democracy, I’m afraid.”
Veronica glowered but held her tongue.
Claire shot her an anxious glance. “Now you have made me curious, Tommy. In heaven’s name, who did you have in mind for Ronnie to spy upon?”
“Not who, so much as what, my dear. Have either of you heard of the Willow Woofs?”
“The who?” they chorused.
“The Willow Woofs.”
“Oh.” Claire raised her hand. “Hang on. Aren’t they that odd crowd of vegetarians who walk around in brown pyjamas and carve sticks and wooden flutes?”
“Ah…in a manner of speaking, yes.” Tommy stroked his moustache. “The Willow Woofs certainly have a back-to-nature ethos that involves handicrafts, and they seem to eschew everyday clothing. They’re also rumoured to be decisively in favour of world peace and the brotherhood—and sisterhood—of mankind. As such, His Majesty’s Government wants to keep an eye on them.”
“Heaven forfend anyone should want world peace after the war to end all wars,” Veronica muttered, reaching for the plate of chocolate Digestive biscuits on the coffee table. “The very idea.”
Tommy had the grace to look embarrassed again. “Quite.”
“So, if Ronnie’s out of the question,” Claire said slowly. “Is there any reason why I shouldn’t do this little job for you? My father’s a Tory Peer, and I’ve no political affiliations of any kind to get in the way. That should satisfy Special Branch.”
Tommy regarded her over steepled fingers. “As a matter of fact, I rather hoped you’d volunteer, Claire.”
She rubbed her hands together. “Then I jolly well do so. What do you have in mind?”
“Oh, hang on, dearest!” Veronica reached over to clasp Claire’s arm. “Tommy, do you intend for Claire to join this group so she can spy on them from within?”
He nodded. “Exactly that.”
“Why should I not join them, darling?” Claire protested. “I’m not bally helpless, you know.”
“I’m not implying you are. But if the Willow Woofs are anything like the Boy Scouts or Girl Guides, it’ll mean you’d have to take your turn at doing cooking, laundry, rubbish disposal, and all that stuff. Plus, I’m pretty sure you’ll have to live under canvas in all weathers.”
For a moment, Claire looked uncertain, then rallied. “Well, how hard can any of that be?” She looked at Tommy. “I’m sure it’ll only take a few weeks at most, yes?”
“Oh yes.” He flashed a benign smile. “You should be done before Royal Ascot. We intend to establish you with the group from the end of April onwards. It’ll be enough time for you to sound them out. Since there won’t be a body on the carpet this time, you should do well in the mission, my dear lady. In spite of budget constraints, we can even offer a modicum of payment for your services.”