The ivy on the wall outside my study window is ancient and gnarled. It offers excellent hand- and footholds and has seen the clandestine arrival and departure of Ambassadors, Heads of State, Cardinals, even a Pope once, in need of my help – a delicate matter involving a Jack Russell / Pontiff cross and a female American blogger. It is said that Josephine Baker once clambered across the entire face of the Bockschloss by clinging to the ivy, while wearing only a ring of bananas. They say that Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht, while staying at Bock Towers, smoked some of the same ivy and came up with the Threepenny Opera that very night – every word and note of it. John Lennon tore a swathe of it from the wall and used it for his bedding. The Marquis deSade, a dear friend of an early Bock ancestor, is said to to have taken away great cartloads of the stuff – for what purpose I cannot imagine.
But never has the ivy on the wall of my study borne a more welcome weight than it did last night.
Let me tell you. I was up late, contrary to my usual custom, though of course you know this already. I was completing a monograph on the curious probity of chicken-legs when viewed through a shotgun wound, and though it had led me a merry dance, I was at last done with the damned thing. The police would be grateful. My pipe was filled, and Scrotum, my wrinkled old retainer, had laid a fine fire and poured me a glass of the best madeira. Suddenly, there came the rat-tat-tat upon my window and as I glanced up from my escritoire, I could vaguely discern the familiar simian features and frantic terrified waving of an old acquaintance. He was swinging from the ivy, oscillating slowly in the late evening breeze, the moonlight picking out the beads of terrified sweat on his ape-like brow.
Why, I started, is it – can it be -?
The unexpected arrival of this ruffian meant only one thing. The disreputable old footpad had somehow contrived to purloin a pair of tickets for the forthcoming football game. The one at Flintstone Park, between the blasted garlic-stinking Frogs and our own fine warriors. I flung open the casement, forgetting that Limehouse Dick had, at best, a tenuous hold on the foliage, and he fell with a dull Phrrlakk! onto the flagstones three storeys beneath.
Dammit I muttered. What a bind!
Returning to my escritoire, I drew down the speaking-horn and blew into it. Scrotum’s ancient voice instantly responded.
Ah, Scrotum, I entreated him. Be a good chap and take a look outside, will you? I think you’ll find our old chum Limehouse Dick lying in a state of disarray by the library window.
Very good, Sir.
Scrotum, would you reach inside his greatcoat and remove what I believe will prove to be a fine brace of tickets to the forthcoming rugby football game at Flintstone Park? There’s a good chap.
Very well, Sir.
And, one last thing, Scrotum.
Call a hansom cab, would you, and sent the poor beggar to the hospital. Make sure to put a bag of sovereigns in his pocket would you, and if he’s conscious, tell him I send my thanks. Chop chop!
Previously: Limehouse Dick