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"Was Bagpuss really intelligent, Joby?" said Lonts, as they still sat in the chapel, awaiting release from tension.
"No, he was a bit of a dork", said Joby, sitting next to him in the pew.
"But you said he was very old and wise!" said Lonts, who had been listening to a vivid description of Bagpuss's life for the past 20 minutes.
"Old and wise he might have been", said Joby "But everytime he went in and out of the windmill he kept getting clobbered by the blades, so he can't have been that bright!"
"Alright, panic over", said Hillyard, returning from outside, and looking like he was about to man the lifeboats, clad as he was in a thick sweater and a duffel-coat "We've located 'em. Persephone says Kieran's booked her guest-room for a few hours".
"Bloody marvellous!" said Joby "We've been sitting in here, worrying ourselves sick, and he's been there fucking Tamaz!"
"Watch your language", said Adam, mischievously "We're in church. Patsy wouldn't like you swearing like that".
"Oh he wouldn't?" Joby climbed up on the pew and yelled "FU-U-CK! FUCK! FUCK!"
Adam pulled him down again. Julian extracted a hip-flask out of his coat-pocket and handed it to Joby, who accepted it gratefully.
"Well isn't this nice?" said Adam "Now we can relax".
"Yeah, particularly now I'm here", said Ransey, who had also been out on the search. As he came in, Finia finished his own frenzied pacing round the edge of the room and ran to hug him.
"He drives me up the wall", said Ransey "Kieran, I mean. He's always done this! He runs off and doesn't tell us what the hell he's up to!"
"Look, let's just be grateful all has ended well", said Adam "Hilly, perhaps you could run home and tell Toppy".
"What for?" said Hillyard "He'll find out when we get back there".
"I expect he's been afraid all this time", said Adam "He's been at home alone with Mieps".
"So?" said Joby, aggressively "If Toppy's been whining, I hope Mieps shoves a ferret down his chastity belt!"
"It'll be a relief when all of us are back home", said Adam "We might all relax a bit then".
The door was flung open again and Bengo came hurtling in, followed by Rumble and Farnol, who were moving at a more sedate pace.
"Julian!" Bengo cried, running across the room "Adam!"
"What is it now?" Adam sighed.
"It's Bardy", Bengo gasped "He's been locked up!"
"What, again?" Julian thundered "He'll end up with a police record as long as his arm!"
"No, no, you don't understand, Hawkefish locked him up", said Bengo, breathlessly "In the smallest dressing-room ... with Hoowie!"
"I'll explain", said Farnol.
"We'll be here all night", Joby groaned.
"It was like this see?" said Farnol "Hoowie was being a pain in the neck".
"Hardly anything unusual", said Julian.
"Well he kept on and on, and we were all a bit worked up about what might be happening with Kieran and Tamaz see?" said Farnol "And Bardin just blew his stack, and a fight broke out. And so Hawkefish locked him and Hoowie in the dressing-room, and said they could stay there til you came and let them out see?"
"I see all too clearly", said Julian "Bardin's got to learn to start walking away from fights. He must have inherited his filthy temper from Adam!"
"Well really!" said Adam.
"Bardy had no choice", Bengo squawked "We were all trapped there until everything was over. It was all too much for him".
He began to pound his fists against Adam, because he was the one standing nearest to him. Julian pulled him off and dragged him out of the building.
"Take me to see Hawkefish", he directed "Whom doubtless I will have to apologise to at great length!"
"But it wasn't Bardy's fault!" Bengo began, again.
"And if you say that one more time I shall spank you here on the town hall steps!" said Julian.
When they got to the Little Theatre, Julian found Hawkefish shakily pouring himself another brandy.
"Your troubles are over", said Julian "I have come to take Bardin away. Hoowie you can do what you like with".
"How are Kieran and Tamaz?" said Hawkefish.
"Both fine", said Julian "Safe and well".
"They both saved the town you know", said Hawkefish.
"Yes, and I shall be taking them away very soon", said Julian "In case they decide to make a habit of it!"
Bardin was retrieved from the dressing-room, which he and Hoowie had splattered with greasepaint.
"This can be your first job, Hoowie", said Julian "Cleaning up this place!"
Bardin dared not say anything. Instead he sheepishly linked hands with Bengo, and they followed Julian out of the theatre. Bengo though was feeling protective of his old friend, and couldn't leave the matter alone.
"You weren't there, Julian", he said "You don't know what it was like. Hoowie was making sick jokes about Tamaz. He was really opening his mouth at the wrong time".
"Everytime Hoowie opens his mouth it's the wrong time!" said Julian "If his vocal chords had been severed at birth, the world would be a much pleasenter place!"
Back at the Town House, they found the others all cooing and fussing round Kieran and Tamaz, who had just returned. Bardin hugged and kissed Tamaz, with whom he was genuinely in love, even if he didn't envy Joby the problem of trying to control him! Bnego then took Bardin into the dining-room and undressed him.
They dozed for a couple of hours, and woke up late in the evening to find that Tamaz had got into bed with them, and was sleeping next to Bengo. He had festooned his winter bloomers over the bed-rail, and was twitching in his sleep like a dog dreaming about chasing rabbits. His mouth was open slightly, showing his little razor-sharp teeth, which Joby jokingly called Tamaz's "Nosferatu choppers". Bengo tried to manoeuvre so that Tamaz was in the middle of them, but succeeded in waking him up.
"Kieran and Joby were talking", he said, sleepily "I didn't want to disturb them, and I felt too tired to keep up with Mieps tonight. So I thought it'd be more relaxing with you two".
This was quite a compliment for the clowns, who were normally judged by the others to be about as restful as a Cavalry charge! The 3 of them slept peacefully in each other's company.
The following day Tamaz accompanied all the clowns back to the Little Theatre to say their farewells before their imminent return back to the Bay. Tamaz wore his luxuriant fur coat over his stage petticoat, and when he got there he handed it to the chorus-girls so that they could take turns in trying it on. Whilst the women were rapturously engaged in this activity, he went on a tour of the dressing-rooms with Bengo and Bardin. Farnol and Rumble had been asked to stay in the foyer to keep Godle occupied, as he might cause trouble on hearing that Bengo was disappearing again.
Hoowie had acquired a champion since joining the staff of the Little Theatre. One of the older chorus-girls had taken him under her wing. She was a bit long in the tooth for being in the chorus-line, but Hawkefish kept her on because, unlike most of the other girls, she still had a slim, finely-toned body.
"You weren't fair to Hoowie", she said, fiercely "He's nowhere near as bad as you've made out at times. If you play fair by Hoowie, he'll play fair by you. The world needs people like Hoowie".
"What, to make us appreciate ourselves more you mean?" said Bardin.
Hoowie was in the middle of mucking out Hawkefish's dressing-room. He looked pale and tired. Since joining the Little Theatre he had made it clear to one and all that the Indigo-ites had treated him badly. He had been beaten and humiliated, he said, and had then been abandoned when they couldn't be bothered to understand him.
"I meant no harm with joking around yesterday, honey", he said, when he saw Tamaz "It's just my way. Everyone else was carrying on as though we should be having muffled drum-beats or something. I was trying to lighten the tension. I've never meant any harm to you. How could I, when you've got such terrific firm jugs!"
Tamaz picked a hand-mirror for Hawkefish's dressing-table and clouted him on the arm with it. Hoowie retaliated by pulling away the skirt of Tamaz's petticoat and tossing it over Bengo's head. Bardin began to laugh, which annoyed Tamaz.
"Oh you think that's funny do you?" Tamaz snapped "Just like our act I suppose?"
He began to spank Bardin with the hand-mirror, scolding him as he did so.
"It was such a scream to keep humiliating me wasn't it?"
"It was all part of the act!" Bardin cried.
"No, admit it!" said Tamaz "You wanted me stripped and smacked because you couldn't handle the fact that you'd fallen for me. Admit it!"
"Alright! O.K!" said Bardin, feeling sore in both senses of the word.
Tamaz stopped spanking him, and Bardin straightened up, flushed with embarrassment.
"I regret giving that part to Joby", he said "I should've walloped you on stage myself!"
"Never mind all that, we're going home now", said Tamaz "Give me back my skirt, Bengo".
Bengo hastily went to refasten it around him, helped by Hoowie.
"You'd better get your things together, jerk", said Tamaz to Hoowie "You're coming with us too".
Hoowie looked speechless (for once) with joy. Bengo and Bardin looked horrified.
"You can't do this!" said Bardin, still rubbing his behind "You have no say in anything!"
Tamaz gave him a look of withering scorn, and preceeded them out of the dressing-room.
"I'll kill him for this", Bardin muttered "When we get back to the Bay, he is going to pay big-time!"
Bengo stroked his arm and made soothing noises. Hoowie trailed along behind them, looking quietly pleased with himself.
Tamaz collected his coat from the chorus-girls, and then led the lads into the bar to collect Farnol and Rumble. When Godle realised that his hour of separation from Bengo was nigh, he went into more boring wails of anguish.
"He is not yours", said Tamaz, giving Godle a hearty slap on his massive chest "He hasn't been for a long time now, and he won't be ever again, not if I have anything to do with it. So just deal with it!"
He ordered all the clowns to then follow him out of the theatre and back home. Bardin was desperately trying to collect himself, in order to put Tamaz firmly in his place, but he was still too flustered from his recent humiliating spanking and wasn't having much success.
"He's a lot sexier than you when he's being bossy", said Rumble, wryly.
"You wait til we get back to the Bay", Bardin hissed "I'll show him who's in charge then!"
Tamaz was completely unfazed by such threats. He stood in the main doorway of the Little Theatre, and fished his leather gloves out of his coat pocket, donning them briskly. This simple gesture was extraordinarily effective. The clowns and Hoowie went into sexual overdrive. Bardin could only seethe and sizzle, both at the same time.
As could only be expected everyone back at the Town House was shocked and dismayed by Hoowie's reappearance. Julian dragged Bardin back into the hall and beat him verbally about the ears.
"Jules, please!" said Adam "You appointed Bardin as being in charge of the under-30s. You can't then complain when he makes decisions off his own bat".
"But I didn't make the bloody decision!" Bardin roared "Tamaz made the fucking decision!"
"Freaky?" said Julian, in shocked disbelief "So you allow Freaky to henpeck you these days do you?"
"No I don't I ..." Bardin looked wretched. How could he deny that Tamaz had any hold over him, when the memory of the spanking was still vivid in his mind "Oh Goddamnit!"
Bengo looked furiously at Tamaz, who in turn looked maddeningly superior. Standing there with his hands on his slim waist, and his breasts thrust up and out by his boned corset. Bardin meanwhile had slammed into the dining-room, and Toppy was looking reproachfully at Tamaz.
"I'm a failure!" Bardin could be heard shouting from behind the door "I couldn't be in charge of a fucking budgie cage!"
"I think you should go and reassure him, Jules", said Adam, sternly.
"Well I think it would be better if Bengo did it", said Julian.
"I know exactly what to do", said Bengo.
He seized Tamaz round the waist and hauled him into the dining-room. Toppy, forgetting his thoughts that Tamaz had betrayed him by bringing Hoowie back, now could only think that Tamaz might be in danger from the clowns, and ran into the dining-room after them.
"Leave me alone", Bardin growled at them from the bed.
No one was listening to them as Tamaz was hissing at Bengo for managing to tear the skirt of his petticoat.
"Oh well better tear it all off then", said Bengo, pulling away the skirt again.
"You're a stupid, stupid clown!" said Tamaz.
He picked up the washing-jug from the sideboard, and hurled the contents into Bengo's face. Bengo peeled off his sodden t-shirt and clouted Tamaz with it, as though it was a wet fish. He then picked up a small fruit-knife from a bowl of peaches. He deftly put Tamaz face-down across his lap, and began to hack at the laces of his corset with the fruit-knife.
"Why don't you just untie them?" said Toppy, in bewilderment.
"You'll ruin it!" Tamaz squawked.
"That's the idea", said Bengo "I'm fed up with you wearing this thing, all bones and rigging. If I had my way you'd just run around in your drawers".
"I expect he will when we get back to the Bay", said Bardin.
"You crazy fucking clown", Tamaz went on "You can't do anything right!"
Bengo put the fruit-knife between his own teeth, and then spanked Tamaz, as a retaliation for Tamaz having humiliated Bardin in front of Hoowie. Tamaz employed a trick he had once used when being chastised by Julian, he bit him on the thigh. He then wriggled off Bengo's lap and began to pelt him with peaches, walnuts, the remains of his corset, and a black pudding that had been languishing under a silver cover on the sideboard.
Bardin jumped off the bed and went to calm him down, just in case most of the crockery and the glassware began to follow suit. In the meantime Toppy pushed Bengo back onto the bed and sat astride him.
"We have to declare this fight a draw", said Toppy, breathlessly.
"A draw?" said Bengo, indignantly "That little tart won! One of those peaches hit me square in the gob!"
"With aim like that Tamaz, I really wish you'd been a clown too", said Bardin.
"Oh yes?" Tamaz spat "You'd have liked that wouldn't you? More degradation heaped on me on stage!"
"Now listen to me", Bardin pleaded, boisterously "I made every audience we ever had fall in love with you. Was that such a bad thing? O.K, if I got carried away with my ideas, I'm sorry. But working with people I fancy stimulates me, I realise that now. You should have seen some of the things I used to do to Bengo!"
Tamaz couldn't think of anything to say as a response, so he pushed Bardin onto the bed with the others, and then jumped on as well. The bed promptly snapped in the middle, causing them all to fall laughing into the dip.
"Those 4 are completely mad aren't they, Adam?" said Lonts, who was sitting just inside the living-room door.
"Yes I'm rather afraid they are", Adam smiled.
Hillyard was tinkling the keys on the piano.
"I think we should take this back to the Bay with us", he said "I can find room for it in the hold. It'd be useful for us to have it there".
"Yeah, if we run out of firewood we can chop it up!" said Joby.
"I was thinking we could have musical evenings", said Hillyard.
"You can forget that idea immediately!" said Julian, with unbridled horror.
"I'll go down to the gramophone shop first thing in the morning", said Hillyard, undaunted "And pick up some sheet music".
"I cannot think of anything more awful than us lot having sing-songs round the joanna!" said Julian "Particularly as Bardin is the only one who can sing!"
"It's a real pants idea, Hillyard", said Joby "Karaoke nights at the Bay!"
"I quite like the sound of it", said Kieran "Community singing".
"Care in the community more like", said Joby.
"When we lived at Wolf Castle", said Hillyard "We used to wish we had a piano".
"No, correction", said Ransey "YOU used to wish we had a piano, the rest of us were quite relievd we didn't!"
"I miss Wolf Castle", said Lonts, suddenly "It's a shame we don't live there now".
"What, with Tamaz's kids there?" said Joby "No thinks!"
"Perhaps we could find somewhere else for them to live", said Lonts.
"There is nowhere else suitable, Lo-Lo", said Adam.
"The Bastille was pulled down many years ago!" said Julian.
"Well perhaps they'd be alright to live with", said Lonts.
"These are Freaky's children we're talking about", said Julian "Four more of Tamaz all under one roof!"
"I wonder what's going to happen to them", said Adam "After all, they're not small children anymore. And I doubt they'll want to stay up there forever".
"More importantly, have they got Tamaz's power?" said Ransey "That's a sobering thought. They might not be as responsible as he is".
"They're been brought up under Phyllis's influence though", said Adam "So I fully expect they're quite benign. Look how Freaky has blossomed under love and tenderness".
A hysterical, high-pitched yodelling sound broke out from the dining-room.
"Y-e-e-s", said Julian, dubiously.
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