Chapter I – Dacres’ Resolve: “Would you like me to mind your dinghy, sir?” Stephen Dacres paused in the act of bending the painter to one of the piles of the toll-bridge and looked at the speaker. He was standing by the water’s edge a stocky lad of about fourteen years of age, dressed in a brown suit. His head was bare, revealing a closely cut crop of light brown hair, that if allowed to grow would develop into a mass of crisp curls. His feet were also bare, his trousers being turned up at the knees. “What’s your name, my lad?” asked Dacres abruptly, not out of curiosity but out of natural caution. Haslar Creek was not a place where a dinghy could be entrusted to a stranger, be he a man or boy, without a few judicious questions.