We were woken twice the night before the race -- once because the Professor heard a prowler in the garden; and again by a fire in the Italian camp. No-one was hurt, and the plane was saved. The events of the night made everyone jumpy, and Professor C was determined to stop the race.
But Lord Worthing and the pilots were just as determined that it should go ahead. In the end, I persuaded Professor C to 'let go and let God', as Sister Marie Therese always says.
Our employer seemed to have forgotten his order that we should find out who was sabotaging planes. I was sorry for this, as I would have liked to have seen whoever hurt that poor Frenchman caught and punished. But Lord Worthing had been sent a new item from Sotherby's and wanted the Professor to look at it. It was a sad-looking Arabian brass automata, badly in need of cleaning. The Professor and I got to work with the Brasso, and it perked up, even flying a little (I think the Professor was afraid Birdie might fly off altogether -- and not that I would have blamed the poor creature, with the way he was going on about taking it apart for further study).
Birdie seems to like music. Also, sand and cinnamon sticks. I think he is a phoenix. The Professor says he is a toy.
The estate was in full festival mode, ready for the race, so we took a break from work to watch the fun. As we walked down to the lawn set aside for spectators, we were accosted by a photographer. I paid him fourpence for a portrait of me -- I'm sure it will amuse the sisters back in Rome. But his daughter, Alice, an engaging if sticky child of four, was insistent about 'Birdie, birdie.' I've no idea how she knew what the Professor and I were up to -- maybe one of the gardeners, or one of the boys told her to ask me for a look at our mechanical wonder. So I took her to see him, and she was suitably impressed -- I think Birdie liked her, too. He was less impressed by Lord Worthing's young sons.
The race was flown, with a victory for Lord Worthing's son Malcom. The Americans came in second, and my Italian friend came in third --he was quite philosophical about it. I'm afraid the Germans were very sore losers. They were picked up later by a large dirigible, and I must say that no-one was sorry to see them go. I hope we never see the Graf again -- but I have a strange feeling he might be back.
I have the photographer's card here -- I'd like him to do a portrait of Birdie, as I've become rather fond of him.
The player says: Nick said afterwards that he had to really work hard to prevent Professor C from stopping the race. We never did ascertain or aprehend the villain -- we assumed it was the Germans, who are the traditional baddies in a HEX scenario.
I was so surprised when the mechanical bird turned up that I nearly fell off my chair -- here's why.
Nick said later that he was a bit taken aback when Tim put so much effort into trying to get the race cancelled. It was slightly annoying to put so much effort into following up clues which pointed only to sabotage, but not to whodunnit. It would have been satisfying to catch whoever was responsible and smash up their plane or something; but I guess the ignominious defeat was a good punishment. I think the Graf and his giant dirigible will be back -- he is far to interesting to waste.
I was interested to see the way the race was decided -- Nick threw dice for each participant and moved them along an imaginary course according to how much they scored.