This was a crisper voice than the first. A third, higher-pitched, and full of pleasant affectations, broke in.
“Oh, practical men, there is no ape here. Why do you waste one of God’s own days on unprofitable discussion? Give me a match!”
“I’ve a good mind to make you demonstrate in your own person. Come on, Bubbles! We’ll make Jimmy climb!”
There was a sound of scuffling, broken by squeaks from Jimmy of the high voice. I turned back and drew Penfentenyou into the side of the flanking hedge. I remembered to have read in a society paper that Lord Lundie’s lesser name was “Bubbles.”
“What are they doing?” Penfentenyou said sharply. “Drunk?”
“Just playing! Superabundant vitality of the Race, you know. We’ll watch ‘em,” I answered. The noise ceased.
“My deliver,” Jimmy gasped. “The ram caught in the thicket, and–I’m the only one who can talk Neapolitan! Leggo my collar!” He cried aloud in a foreign tongue, and was answered from the gate.
“It’s the Calvinistic organ-grinder,” I whispered. I had already found a practicable break at the bottom of the hedge. “They’re going to try to make the monkey climb, I believe.”
“Here–let me look!” Penfentenyou flung himself down, and rooted till he too broke a peep-hole. We lay side by side commanding the entire garden at ten yards’ range.
“You know ‘em?” said Penfentenyou, as I made some noise or other.
“By sight only. The big fellow in flannels is Lord Lundie; the light-built one with the yellow beard painted his picture at the last Academy: He’s a swell R.A., James Loman.”
“And the brown chap with the hands?”
“Tomling, Sir Christopher Tomling, the South American engineer who built the–”
“San Juan Viaduct. I know,” said Penfentenyou. “We ought to have had him with us . . . . Do you think a monkey would climb the tree?”
The organ-grinder at the gate fenced his beast with one arm as Jimmy-talked.
“Don’t show off your futile accomplishments,” said Lord Lundie. “Tell him it’s an experiment. Interest him!”
“Shut up, Bubbles. You aren’t in court,” Jimmy’,replied. “This needs delicacy. Giuseppe says–”
“Interest the monkey,” the brown engineer interrupted. “He won’t climb for love. Cut up to the house and get some biscuits, Bubbles–sugar ones and an orange or two. No need to tell our womenfolk.”
The huge white figure lobbed off at a trot which would not have disgraced a boy of seventeen. I gathered from something Jimmy let fall that the three had been at Harrow together.
“That Tomling has a head on his Shoulders,” muttered Penfentenyou. “Pity we didn’t get him for the Colony. But the question is, will the monkey climb?”
“Be quick, Jimmy. Tell the man we’ll give him five bob for the loan of the beast. Now run the organ under the tree, and we’ll dress it when Bubbles comes back,” Sir Christopher cried.
“I’ve often wondered,” said Penfentenyou, “whether it would puzzle a monkey?” He had forgotten the needs of his Growing Nation, and was earnestly parting the white-thorn stems with his fingers.
* * * * * * * * * *
Giuseppe and Jimmy did as they were told, the monkey following them with a wary and malignant eye.
“Here’s a discovery,” said Jimmy. “The singing part of this organ comes off the wheels.” He spoke volubly to the proprietor. “Oh, it’s so as Giuseppe can take it to his room o’ nights. And play it. D’you hear that? The organ-grinder, after his day’s crime, plays his accursed machine for love. For love, Chris! And Michael Angelo was one of ‘em!”
“Don’t jaw! Tell him to take the beast’s petticoat off,” said Sir Christopher Tomling.
Lord Lundie returned, very little winded, through a gap higher up the hedge.
“They’re all out, thank goodness!” he cried, “but I’ve raided what I could. Macrons glaces, candied fruit, and a bag of oranges.”
“Excellent!” said the world-renowned contractor.
“Jimmy, you’re the light-weight; jump up on the organ and impale these things on the leaves as I hand ‘em!”