LEINIGEN & THE LAMBETH TREASURE
A Twitter adventure told in portions of 140 characters or less.
Part Nineteen: A Brawl With the Bully Boys!
It should be needless for me to say that I had not really punched Jesus – as in the real Jesus, if there ever was one – flush in the mush.
I am a regular desperado; I have crossed swords and swagger sticks with personages high and low. But I draw the line at the son of God.
No, the bunch of fives that kicked off what became a ten out ten mêlée in the hall of Teviot House was thrown, by me, at a picture of Jesus.
The picture in question was ‘The Light of the World’ by William Holman Hunt. The St Paul’s version, I guessed, given its strapping height.
I didn’t suppose, though, as I fought on with Moon’s henchmen and said picture of Jesus, that Moon had expected me to stick one on him.
After all, ‘The Light of the World’ had proven its potency – Moon’s guest had a powerful, unsettling, unutterably wholesome and lovely gaze.
Moon’s audience had fallen to it. I damned near had too. That was what Moon had wanted. He had conjured up a mesmerist. Nothing more.
Which was just as well for him, because ‘Mr Holman-Hunt’ (I suppose I really shouldn’t call him Jesus) did not quite punch his weight.
In fact, he did not punch at all. I exchanged lusty blows, upper cuts, jabs and left-right combinations, with the two members of the YMCE.
But Holman-Hunt proved a little too, well, Christlike. He merely gazed in his winsome, beneficial way at the ball of flying fists we made.
I sensed Moon’s misfortune. Unfortunately, so did Moon. Sighing, he handed his guest his black cloak. Meekly, Holman-Hunt covered himself.
Moon clapped loudly, twice, and the audience in the hall, all three or four hundred somnambulant Scotchmen and women, woke from its snooze.
That was where things, as in events progressing and developing in the hall, got a little, well, sticky. I shall spare you grisly details.
After all, a brawl at a neo-Fascist rally is not something to inflict on gentle readers, whether said bully boys are C of E trained or not.
I’d seen such things before. Boxing clubs on the Ratcliff Highway: Marxists to the left, Mosleyites to the right. I fought at Cable Street.
Safe to say, on this occasion meaty Scottish fists and handbags rained down from all sides and eventually I was overcome. And restrained.
As the rabble, dismissed by Moon, streamed out, satisfied as all Scots are after a bit of stoosh of a Saturday night, two YMCE men held me.
Moon also spared me further speechifying, turning quite the strong, silent type as he led Mr Holman-Hunt off the stage and out of the hall.
I tried a bit of how’s-your-father, but my stern captors had none of it. The supposed Jolyon could have held me quite on his tod, I knew.
So I waited. Duly, Moon returned. He regarded me wearily, then seemed to buck himself up and gather his predictably malevolent thoughts.
‘Very well, Brother Leinigen,’ he said. ‘I see converting you will prove as impossible as shaking you off my trail.’ I grinned at him.
‘Too right, old chum,’ I said. ‘I see half of what you’re up to and its become quite the chivalrous quest to stop it.’ Moon laughed, coldly.
‘It don’t figure chortling, mate,’ I said, stressing the word as is practicable when addressing tradesmen, loafers and lawyers. Moon glared.
But he was, as before, not in a particularly loquacious mood. I supposed I had messed up one too many of his villainous set-pieces. Good.
Moon looked at Simon of the YMCE, lurking as per, and barked a pre-emptory order. Not that an order should be anything but. Obviously.
Simon of the YMCE went backstage. After a moment, there came a sound of running chains and moving scenery. I cocked a weary eyebrow.
The backdrop rose. It did not reveal another set: French windows for a grinning monster to bound through, asking if anyone was for tennis.
Instead, chill air blew in from the raw Edinburgh night. Diligently, Simon of the YMCE cranked open two huge iron doors behind the stage.
Under a short platform, as at the back of a warehouse, Moon’s flatback truck idled. I supposed Mr Holman-Hunt was the driver. Talented lad.
From somewhere, Simon switched on an arc lamp. Moon’s truck carried a large, square object, covered by a coarse, ex-army, khaki tarpaulin.
This was, of course, the cage that held Vespa and the Archbishop of Canterbury. I predicted, rightly, that I was about to be thrown into it.
The suspected Jolyon manhandled me into the cage, then surprised me by climbing in too. Vespa and the Archbishop blinked in the harsh light.
We did not talk, even as the possible Jolyon produced a coil of thick rope, tar-smeared and rough, no doubt freshly lifted from Leith dock.
From the loading bay, Moon spoke. ‘I’m afraid I shall have to restrain you, Brother Leinigen.’ I maintained a stony, disdainful silence.
Moon barked an instruction and the enormous YMCE member, who turned out, rather disappointingly, to be called Matthew, began to tie me…
… to Vespa. Face to face, in quite startlingly indecent proximity, we were bound! I turned my head to protest. Moon positively leered.
‘Do not be so prim, Brother Leinigen,’ he said. ‘It is only a light and temporary bondage. Quite usual in adventures such as these.’
I supposed it was, and when Vespa wriggled against me, searching merely for a more comfortable way to slump, I began to see its attraction.
But further inappropriate thoughts were chased from my mind. Matthew of the YMCE stayed in the cage as Moon clicked its heavy door closed.
Two YMCE troopers covered the cage with the ex-army tarpaulin. In the dark, I sensed the presence of Matthew and the captive Archbishop.
I lay flat, with Vespa on top of me. Outside, in the yard behind Teviot Row House, I heard the grumble of more than one engine. A convoy!
Soon, we moved. I knew, from Moon, that we were being taken to the Highlands. Slowly, surely, we were pulled into the night. We drove north…