`Nous twiggons. Good enough. What's the chorus for the final ballet? It's four kicks and a turn,' said Dick Four.
John Short will ring the curtain down,
`Rippin'! Rippin'! Now for the Widow's scene with the Princess. Hurry up, Turkey.'
M`Turk, in a violet silk skirt and a coquettish blue turban, slouched forward as one thoroughly ashamed of himself. The Slave of the Lamp climbed down from the piano, and dispassionately kicked him. `Play up, Turkey,' he said; `this is serious.' But there fell on the door the knock of authority. It happened to be King, in gown and mortar-board, enjoying a Saturday evening prowl before dinner.
`Locked doors! Locked doors!' he snapped with a scowl. `What's the meaning of this; and what, may I ask, is the intention of this -- this epicene attire?'
`Pantomime, sir. The Head gave us leave,' said Abanazar, as the only member of the Sixth concerned. Dick Four stood firm in the confidence born of well-fitting tights, but the Beetle strove to efface himself behind the piano. A gray princess-skirt borrowed from a day-boy's mother and a spotted cotton-bodice unsystematically padded with imposition-paper make one ridiculous. And in other regards Beetle had a bad conscience.
`As usual!' sneered King. `Futile foolery just when your careers, such as they may be, are hanging in the balance. I see! Ah, I see! The old gang of criminals -- allied forces of disorder -- Corkran' -- the Slave of the Lamp smiled politely -- `M`Turk' -- the Irishman smiled -- `and, of course, the unspeakable Beetle, our friend Gigadibs.' Abanazar, the Emperor, and Aladdin had more or less of characters, and King passed them over. `Come forth, my inky buffoon, from behind yonder instrument of music! You supply, I presume, the doggerel for this entertainment. Esteem yourself to be, as it were, a poet?'
`He's found one of 'em,' thought Beetle, noting the flush on King's cheek-bone.
`I have just had the pleasure of reading an effusion of yours to my address, I believe -- an effusion intended to rhyme. So -- so you despise me, Master Gigadibs, do you? I am quite aware -- you need not explain -- that it was ostensibly not intended for my edification. I read it with laughter -- yes, with laughter. These paper pellets of inky boys -- still a boy we are, Master Gigadibs -- do not disturb my equanimity.'
`'Wonder which it was,' thought Beetle. He had launched many lampoons on an appreciative public ever since he discovered that it was possible to convey reproof in rhyme.
In sign of his unruffled calm, King proceeded to tear Beetle, whom he called Gigadibs, slowly asunder. From his untied shoe-strings to his mended spectacles (the life of a poet at a big school is hard) he held him up to the derision of his associates -- with the usual result. His wild flowers of speech -- King had an unpleasant tongue -- restored him to good humour at the last. He drew a lurid picture of Beetle's latter end as a scurrilous pamphleteer dying in an attic, scattered a few compliments over M`Turk and Corkran, and, reminding Beetle that he must come up for judgment when called upon, went to Common- room, where he triumphed anew over his victims.
`And the worst of it,' he explained in a loud voice over his soup, `is that I waste such gems of sarcasm on their thick heads. It's miles above them, I'm certain.'
`We-ell,' said the school chaplain slowly, `I don't know what Corkran's appreciation of your style may be, but young M`Turk reads Ruskin for his amusement.'
`Nonsense! He does it to show off. I mistrust the dark Celt.'
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|