“I see,” said Jimmy, capering like a springbuck. “Upward and onward, eh? First, he’ll reach out for–how infernal prickly these leaves are!–this biscuit. Next we’ll lure him on–(that’s about the reach of his arm)–with the marron glare, and then he’ll open out this orange. How human! How like your ignoble career, Bubbles!”
With care and elaboration they ornamented that tree’s lower branches with sugar-topped biscuits, oranges, bits of banana, and marrons glares till it looked very ape’s path to Paradise.
“Unchain the Gyascutis!” said Sir Christopher commandingly. Giuseppe placed the monkey atop of the organ, where the beast, misunderstanding, stood on his head.
“He’s throwing himself on the mercy of the Court, me lud,” said Jimmy. “No–now he’s interested. Now he’s reaching after higher things. What wouldn’t I give to have here” (he mentioned a name not unhonoured in British Art). “Ambition plucking apples of Sodom!” (the monkey had pricked himself and was swearing). “Genius hampered by Convention? Oh, there’s a whole bushelful of allegories in it!”
“Give him time. He’s balancing the probabilities,” said Lord Lundie.
The three closed round the monkey,–hanging on his every motion with an earnestness almost equal to ours. The great judge’s head–seamed and vertical forehead, iron mouth, and pike-like under-jaw, all set on that thick neck rising out of the white flannelled collar–was thrown against the puckered green silk of the organ-front as it might have been a cameo of Titus. Jimmy, with raised eyes and parted lips, fingered his grizzled chestnut beard, and I was near enough to-note, the capable beauty of his hands. Sir Christopher stood a little apart, his arms folded behind his back, one heavy brown boot thrust forward, chin in as curbed, and black eyebrows lowered to shade the keen eyes.
Giuseppe’s dark face between flashing earrings, a twisted rag of red and yellow silk round his throat, turned from the reaching yearning monkey to the pink and white biscuits spiked on the bronzed leafage. And upon them all fell the serious and workmanlike sun of an English summer forenoon.
“Fils de Saint Louis, montez au ciel!” said Lord Lundie suddenly in a voice that made me think of Black Caps. I do not know what the monkey thought, because at that instant he leaped off the organ and disappeared.
There was a clash of broken glass behind the tree.
The monkey’s face, distorted with passion, appeared at an upper window of the house, and a starred hole in the stained-glass window to the left of ‘the front door showed the first steps of his upward path.
“We’ve got to catch him,” cried Sir Christopher. “Come along!”
They pushed at the door, which was unlocked.
“Yes. But consider the ethics of the case,” said Jimmy. “Isn’t this burglary or something, Bubbles?”
“Settle that when he’s caught,” said Sir Christopher. We’re responsible for the beast.”
A furious clanging of bells broke out of the empty house, followed by muffed gurglings and trumpetings.
“What the deuce is that?” I asked, half aloud.
“The plumbing, of course,” said Penfentenyou. “What a pity! I believe he’d have climbed if Lord Lundie hadn’t put him off!”
“Wait a moment, Chris,” said Jimmy the interpreter; ” Guiseppe says he may answer to the music of his infancy. Giuseppe, therefore, will go in with the “organ. Orpheus with his lute, you know. Avante, Orpheus! There’s no Neapolitan for bathroom, but I fancy your friend is there.”
“I’m not going into another man’s house with a, hurdy-gurdy,” said Lord Lundie, recoiling, as Giuseppe unshipped the working mechanism of the organ (it developed a hang-down leg) from its wheels, slipped a strap round his shoulders, and gave the handle a twist.
“Don’t be a cad, Bubbles,” was Jimmy’s answer. “You couldn’t leave us now if you were on the Woolsack. Play, Orpheus! The Cadi accompanies.”
* * * * * * * * *