The Sins of the Father - By Jeffrey Archer

Chapter 1
1939 - 1941



'Sure, and I'm Babe Ruth,' said Detective Kolowski as he lit a cigarette.

'No,' said Harry, 'you don't understand, there's been a terrible mistake. I'm Harry Clifton, an Englishman from Bristol. I served on the same ship as Tom Bradshaw.'

'Save it for your lawyer,' said the detective, exhaling deeply and filling the small cell with a cloud of smoke.

'I don't have a lawyer,' protested Harry.

'If I was in the trouble you're in, kid, I'd consider having Sefton Jelks on my side to be about my only hope.'

'Who's Sefton Jelks?'

'You may not have heard of the sharpest lawyer in New York,' said the detective as he blew out another plume of smoke, 'but he has an appointment to see you at nine o'clock tomorrow morning, and Jelks don't leave his office unless his bill has been paid in advance.'

'But - ' began Harry, as Kolowski banged the palm of his hand on the cell door.

'So when Jelks turns up tomorrow morning,' Kolowski continued, ignoring Harry's interruption, 'you'd better come up with a more convincing story than we've arrested the wrong man. You told the immigration officer that you were Tom Bradshaw, and if it was good enough for him, it's going to be good enough for the judge.'

The cell door swung open, but not before the detective had exhaled another plume of smoke that made Harry cough. Kolowski stepped out into the corridor without another word and slammed the door behind him. Harry collapsed on to a bunk that was attached to the wall and rested his head on a brick-hard pillow. He looked up at the ceiling and began to think about how he'd ended up in a police cell on the other side of the world on a murder charge.

The Sins of the Father

The door opened long before the morning light could creep through the bars of the window and into the cell. Despite the early hour, Harry was wide awake.

A warder strolled in carrying a tray of food that the Salvation Army wouldn't have considered offering a penniless hobo. Once he'd placed the tray on the little wooden table, he left without a word.

Harry took one look at the food before beginning to pace up and down. With each step, he grew more confident that once he explained to Mr Jelks the reason he'd exchanged his name with Tom Bradshaw, the matter would quickly be sorted out. Surely the worst punishment they could exact would be to deport him, and as he'd always intended to return to England and join the navy, it all fitted in with his original plan.

At 8.55 a.m., Harry was sitting on the end of the bunk, impatient for Mr Jelks to appear. The massive iron door didn't swing open until twelve minutes past nine. Harry leapt up as a prison guard stood to one side and allowed a tall, elegant man with silver grey hair to enter. Harry thought he must have been about the same age as Grandpa. Mr Jelks wore a dark blue pinstripe, double-breasted suit, a white shirt and a striped tie. The weary look on his face suggested that little would surprise him.

'Good morning,' he said, giving Harry a faint smile. 'My name is Sefton Jelks. I am the senior partner of Jelks, Myers and Abernathy, and my clients, Mr and Mrs Bradshaw, have asked me to represent you in your upcoming trial.'

Harry offered Jelks the only chair in his cell, as if he was an old friend who had dropped in to his study at Oxford for a cup of tea. He perched on the bunk and watched the lawyer as he opened his briefcase, extracted a yellow pad and placed it on the table.

Jelks took a pen from an inside pocket and said, 'Perhaps you might begin by telling me who you are, as we both know you're not Lieutenant Bradshaw.'

If the lawyer was surprised by Harry's story he showed no sign of it. Head bowed, he wrote copious notes on his yellow pad while Harry explained how he'd ended up spending the night in jail. Once he'd finished, Harry assumed his problems must surely be over, as he had such a senior lawyer on his side - that was, until he heard Jelks's first question.

'You say that you wrote a letter to your mother while you were on board the Kansas Star, explaining why you had assumed Tom Bradshaw's identity?'

'That's correct, sir. I didn't want my Copyright 2016 - 2024