And they had plenty to discuss: negotiations for the sale of what they had confirmed was the genuine Diary or Journal of Conquests of the thirteenth century Sir Parlane MacFarlane, had reached a critical phase: supposedly discovered by The Very Reverend Angus MacAngus in a ha-ha near Lesmahagow, an American buyer who believed himself to be a direct descendant of the disreputable baronet was offering a sum not far short of five million pounds! this was much more than the sellers had dared to hope, but it also gave them grounds to believe that even more might be extracted, if, for instance, a Russian former KGB officer, now Oilygarch (as they termed him) and also a purported descendant, could be nudged into making a counter-offer; oh, they were rubbing their hands in glee when the door of the Pub - the only one in Melrose as we never tire of telling anyone who will listen - swung open and Grigori Rasputin strolled in with his new wife, Calamity Jane, bringing a blast of cold air and a swirl of Siberia in their wake: "snow on their boots," whispered Professor Sir Clement Dane #1 to Professor Sir Clement Dane #2, "fresh from Murmansk," giggled #2 back at him, and they toasted themselves, for Rasputin was the broker who had introduced them to Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov; he was carrying a piece of paper as he approached them in a widdershins spiral, as was usual for him, seeming to think that way no-one else would realise who he was approaching, while Jane oozled over to the bar to speak to Dusty and order their drinks (Rasputin disdained money and never carried any himself) and the two Danes made room at their table for the bulky former monk to make himself comfortable; "greetins, pals," said Rasputin, in his impeccable Melrose accent, "hooz yooz yins? Weel, ah've nooz frae wir freend, sez 'eez cummin bi choo-choo the morn's morn, tae hae a swatch at the gids, bringin a nexpert aw they wey ower frae the Hermitage, ye micht kennim, a . . . . ." held the paper close to his eyes, refusing, on account of a rather foolish pride, to wear spectacles in public despite his severe shortsightedness (he still wasn't sure how many Danes he was dealing with, anything from one - when they blurred together - to four, when his double-vision kicked in, usually after a few too many vodkas) ". . . . . Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, aye thon's 'im, rings a bell bit ah cannae pit a face tae the name, ma memry's still na whit it wis, the doc reckons thir's a bit o a slug in ma heid an the pisin ah wis gied's plyin havoc wi ma nervus system, asamettorfack el dottore, ra Heid Honcho, sez efter whit ah went threw, am mair o a nassemblage than a maun! Did evva hear the likes? A Medicinal Montage! loada shite but, am jist gettin past ma use bi date, onywey, ur ye's okey dokey boot meetin thum in 'eer boot twa? ma Jane's gonnae clect thum aff the choo-choo an drive thum ower, three o thum, aye, thur's sumdy else bit 'ee dusnae gie 'is name, sez ee's non-des-cript, a fink that means 'ee disappears intae the backgroond" and the two Danes glanced nervously at each other: a bodyguard! they knew Rusty wouldn't like the thought of armed Russians in The Ship, because they have a nasty habit of attracting other armed Russians and when that happens - Heaven Forfend!