With a whoop, a buzz, and a crash, the organ sprang to life under the hand of Giuseppe, and the procession passed through the rained-to-imitate-walnut front door. A moment later we saw the monkey ramping on the roof.
“He’ll be all over the township in a minute if we don’t head him,” said Penfentenyou, leaping to his feet, and crashing into the garden. We headed him with pebbles till he retired through a window to the tuneful reminder that he had left a lot of little things behind him. As we passed the front door it swung open, and showed Jimmy the artist sitting at the bottom of a newly-cleaned staircase. He waggled his hands at us, and when we entered we saw that the man was stricken speechless. His eyes grew red–red like a ferret’s–and what little breath he had whistled shrilly. At first we thought it was a fit, and then we saw that it was mirth–the inopportune mirth of the Artistic Temperament.
The house palpitated to an infamous melody punctuated by the stump of the barrel-organ’s one leg, as Giuseppe, above, moved from room to room after his rebel slave. Now and again a floor shook a little under the combined rushes of Lord Lundie and Sir Christopher Tomling, who gave many and contradictory orders. But when they could they cursed Jimmy with splendid thoroughness.
“Have you anything to do with the house?” panted Jimmy at last. “Because we’re using it just now.” He gulped. “And I’m ah–keeping cave.”
“All right,” said Penfentenyou, and shut the hall door.
“Jimmy, you unspeakable blackguard) Jimmy, you cur! You coward!” (Lord Lundie’s voice overbore the flood of melody.) “Come up here! Giussieppe’s saying something we don’t understand.”
Jimmy listened and interpreted between hiccups.
“He says you’d better play the organ, Bubbles, and let him do the stalking. The monkey knows him.”
“By Jove, he’s quite right,” said Sir Christopher ,from the landing. “Take it, Bubbles, at once.”
“My God!” said Lord Lundie in horror.
The chase reverberated over our heads, from the attics to the first floor and back again. Bodies and Voices met in collision and argument, and once or twice the organ hit walls and doors. Then it broke forth in a new manner.
“He’s playing it,” said Jimmy. “I know his acute Justinian ear. Are you fond of music?”
“I think Lord Lundie plays very well for a beginner,” I ventured.
“Ah! That’s the trained legal intellect. Like mastering a brief. I haven’t got it.” He wiped his eyes and shook.
“Hi!” said Penfentenyou, looking through the stained glass window down the garden. “What’s that!”
* * * * * * * * *
A household removals van, in charge of four men, had halted at the gate. A husband and his wife householders beyond question–quavered irresolutely up the path. He looked tired. She was certainly cross. In all this haphazard world the last couple to understand a scientific experiment.
I laid hands on Jimmy–the clamour above drowning speech and with Penfentenyou’s aid, propped him against the window, that he should see.
He saw, nodded, fell as an umbrella can fall, and kneeling, beat his forehead on the shut door. Penfentenyou slid the bolt.
The furniture men reinforced the two figures on the path, and advanced, spreading generously.
“Hadn’t we better warn them up-stairs?” I suggested:
“No. I’ll die first!” said Jimmy. “I’m pretty near it now. Besides, they called me names.”
I turned from the Artist to the Administrator.
“Coeteris paribus, I think we’d better be going,” said Penfentenyou, dealer in crises.
“Ta–take me with you,” said Jimmy. “I’ve no reputation to lose, but I’d like to watch ‘em from–er–outside the picture.”
“There’s always a modus viviendi,” Penfentenyou murmured, and tiptoed along the hall to a back door, which he opened quite silently. We passed into a tangle of gooseberry bushes where, at his statesmanlike example, we crawled on all fours, and regained the hedge.