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By Sarah Hapgood

They ate well at the club-house, falling on the cold chicken, pickles and egg mayonnaise as though they hadn't seen food in days. They then left Adam, Julian and Lonts to have a round of golf, and went back to the Festival site, where most of them went off to see the wardrobe mistress to cadge a frock and a handbag for Farnol. Bengo was left behind at the caravan, as it was his turn to air the sheets and scrub the frying-pans, still a grisly sight after the previous night's supper.

He was dismayed when Godle The Strong-Man, his far-too-ardent admirer, appeared in the doorway. He stepped up into the caravan, seeming to fill it with his massive physique.

"Godle, please, I thought you'd have heard", said Bengo, plaintively "Me and Bardin are married. This is crazy, you've got to give it all up. I mean it".

Godle advanced towards him, backing him up against Tamaz's bunk.

"Don't hurt me", Bengo whispered, convinced he was about to be raped "Please don't hurt me".

"I wouldn't hurt you", Godle began to sob, stroking the ends of Bengo's hair "I love you".

"GET OUT!" Bardin yelled, having silently climbed up into the caravan "Zooks took great pleasure in telling me he'd seen you heading this way. Well you may be a big man, but I can still throw you out of here if I have to".

Godle looked at him, and flexed his fingers in a disturbing fashion. Bengo suddenly grabbed the frying-pan out of the sink and brandished it at him. Godle took the hint and went outside, where he rocked the caravan like a giant cradle.

"Stop that at once!" Bardin shouted "Clear off!"

"Oh Bardy", Bengo gushed in awe, after Godle had gone "Oh Bardy!"

"Why didn't you hit him with the pan when he first came in?" said Bardin.

"I didn't think", said Bengo "I still couldn't get used to thinking of him as a threat I guess".

"You don't have to think of him as a threat, just as a bloody menace!" said Bardin, in exasperation "Stop being so fucking obliging! Do I have to teach you everything?"

"Yes", said Bengo, rapturously "I can't manage anything without you, you're my master".

Bardin slammed shut the caravan door and bolted it.

"You and your damn sex appeal!" he said "You don't know what the fuck you're doing with it half the time!"

Bardin put him across his knee and smacked him in a very satisfying way, with Bengo relishing the stinging blows on his behind. At times like this Bardin was even better and sexier at it than Julian. Bardin was thorough and methodical and extremely cross with him. They were interrupted by a knock on the door.

"Go away", said Bardin.

"No I won't, it's me, Tamaz. Open up".

Bardin let him in.

"What are you doing coming back on your own?" Bardin exclaimed "You're not supposed to wander about on your own. We don't know who's round here half the time. It's bad enough that I have to practically keep Bengo on a leash. It seems I need one for you too!"

"Stop going on", said Tamaz "I've got vital information. If you can stop spanking Bengo long enough I'll tell you".

"Don't gloat, it'll be your turn next", said Bengo, rubbing his behind.

"That sulky chorus-girl drew that picture of me", said Tamaz "She said to me just now, 'did you like your mug-shot? I'm pretty good at it aren't I?'"

"Which sulky chorus-girl?" said Bardin.

"The dark-haired one with the sallow skin", said Tamaz "Hortense, I think she's called".

"Oh she's a cow, she's miserable with everyone", said Bengo "If she didn't have such a good figure, I spect Hawkefish would have sacked her years ago".

"Not at the moment he won't, he's screwing her", said Tamaz "All the other chorus-girls are pig-sick about it".

"Hah, sleeping with the boss-man I'm not surprised!" said Bardin "Mind you, everyone sleeps with Hortense sooner or later. I did once myself".

"You did?" said Bengo, in dismay.

"Yeah, once", said Bardin "If I'd blinked I'd have missed it, and I've never felt the slightest urge to have a repeat performance, so you can stop looking like wounded bunny-rabbit. We were both lonely one evening after the show, and you'd buggered off home immediately like you always did. So keen to get back to the Indigo you wouldn't even have a drink with me".

"I'm sorry, Bardy", said Bengo, looking wretched.

"But I understand why now", said Bardin, cajolingly, blowing kisses at him.

"That explains a lot", said Tamaz, throwing himself onto his bunk "She's jealous of me as you said, because you're madly in love with me".

"More likely she's jealous that Hawkefish has been singing your praises", said Bardin "One of the perils of being the boss-man's concubine is that you get paranoid about all the other tasty pieces around".

"We'll give her a show tonight to be really pig-sick about!" said Tamaz.

Bardin found this comment worrying, it meant Tamaz was hatching a plot of some kind. His fears were justified. They were in the middle of 'The Stallion' during their 5 o'clock spot, when Tamaz suddenly tore off the catamite's frock he was wearing, and jumped up onto the low barrier that separated them from the audience. There he stood, in his drawers and stockings, and he literally transfixed the audience with the magnetism of his stare.

"What the hell's he doing?" said Julian, who had got a back row seat with the others.

"I don't know", said Adam, nervously.

Joby got to his feet, as did Kieran. The audience were now getting frightened and restless, murmuring to each other and shifting uneasily in their seats.

"What the fuck's he playing at?" Bardin hissed "We'll get the bird at this rate!"

Tamaz got down off the barrier, and the act resumed as though nothing had happened, albeit with him in his underwear. The sketch was successful enough to convince the audience that Tamaz's little escapade had been merely an interesting diversion. Bardin was furious though, and as soon as they were out of the ring he dragged him over to the area backstage where the horses were penned.

"Don't you EVER do that to us again!" he yelled "You could've got yourself lynched out there!"

"They liked it in the end", said Tamaz "It excited them".

"After you'd scared the shit out of them!" said Bardin.

"They would never have got such a thrill from Hortense and the other tatty tarts", said Tamaz "And if people want to be cruel to me because of what I am, then I'll turn it back on them. Surely you can understand that?"

"And what if one of the audience nearby had a gun on them, and shot you out of sheer terror?" said Bardin "Had you thought about that, eh?"

Tamaz shrugged, and so Bardin, completely infuriated, whipped him soundly with the loose strap of a harness that had been left on one of the straw bales nearby. Tamaz struggled to get out of his grip, hissing and spitting all the while.

"Let me alone!" he wept.

"Not until I've got it through to you, you little bitch!" said Bardin.

"I'm not Bengo to be treated this way by you!" said Tamaz.

"You've got about as much bloody commonsense as Bengo sometimes!" said Bardin, angrily.

Tamaz managed to get free, and promptly pushed Bardin backwards into a horse-trough. Leaving him there, he stormed towards Toppy, who was waiting to help him back into his dress. Even Toppy was cross with him though!

"I-I'm taking you home, now", Toppy stammered "A-and you c-can stay in the caravan for the rest of the evening".

"You and whose army?" said Tamaz, disdainfully.

"Will I do for starters?" said Julian, hoving into view, followed by most of the others, although Kieran was conspicuously absent.

"You don't have to beat him, Julian", said Toppy "Bardin's just done it".

"That gives me immense satisfaction to hear that!" said Julian.

Bardin had finally got himself out of the horse-trough and squelched towards them, wringing out his vest on the way.

"Well I needed cooling off anyway!" he spat, aggressively.

Joby was a little disconcerted by Kieran's disappearance and, after giving Tamaz a withering look of displeasure, which he was pretty certain would chasten him for a while, he went in search of Kieran. He found him sitting cross-legged on the narrow ledge at the back of one of the wagons.

"You look like an imp sitting there", said Joby "A blonde goblin".

"A leprechaun surely?" said Kieran, jumping onto the ground.

"Where did you go?" said Joby.

"I had to calm down a wee moment", said Kieran, slipping his arm around Joby's waist "Seeing Tamaz like that in there reminded me of all the chaos at Quipignon, when the Gorgon was brought out into the circus ring to destroy the vampires. I don't think he realises what a potent image his mother still has".

"Oh he knows alright", said Joby "That's why he did it, the little scrote! Well Bardin's had a go at him, but why don't you go and give him a good smack too, it might shock him to his senses?"

"No I don't feel angry enough now", said Kieran "I was at first, and it was a good job for him I was sitting at the back, or he might have got the full brunt of an Irishman's temper! But oh I don't know, in some ways he's done me a favour. After all, all that back then was evil and chaos and now it's just Tamaz playing games. Brinslee was saying to me earlier how much the world's moved on, and that's proved it better than anything".

Julian came towards them, dragging Tamaz by the hand. Tamaz, emotionally exhausted after the events of the day, was sobbing and tripping over the hem of his dress. Toppy was scampering along behind them, rather anxiously.

"Right, say goodnight to mummy and daddy", said Julian to Tamaz "And then Toppy can take you back to the tin-can".

"When's this ordeal going to end?" Tamaz wailed.

"Now if you want", said Joby "There's nothing to stop you coming back to Brinslee's with us. The clowns'll just have to manage without you".

This was a truly inspired suggestion on Joby's part. He knew Tamaz would not be able to stomach the thought of the others getting by without him. And there was a lot more action to miss at the caravan, than there was at the Governor's House.

"No I shall stay", he said, magnanimously "I would not like to let them down now".

He and Toppy then strolled away towards the caravan-site.

"Goodnight then!" Joby called after them, facetiously "Bloody marvellous innit!"

Julian sympathised with Tamaz's views as regards the action at the Governor's House, in as much as there wasn't any! That evening was the worst of the lot. Adam took Lonts to bed early and didn't reappear, and Julian was reduced to sitting by the ornamental pond in the garden, whilst Brinslee poured out a harrowing tale of woe about what was wrong with the local hospital, until Hillyard agreed to set up a trust fund for them, similar to the one he had instigated in Toondor Lanpin.

First thing the following morning, even before breakfast, he and Ransey set off for the bank to put the wheels in motion. In his absence Julian scoured the room for the key to the cigar drawer, but failed to uncover where Hillyard had hidden it.

"Why don't I run you a nice bath?" said Adam, who had come in whilst he was in the middle of the search.

"Do so", said Julian, curtly "I'll be along in a moment. It's nice to have someone who notices I'm alive! This trip has really shown me how it's only the younger ones who give me any due attention. Their presence is sorely missed".

"You were the one who threw them out", said Adam.

"I know!" said Julian.

"Anyway, stop feeling sorry for yourself", said Adam "Everybody notices you, you don't leave us any choice most of the time!"

Hillyard returned whilst Adam was busy in the bathroom. Flushed with the virtue of giving away a heap of money to a deserving cause, Hillyard was in a very frisky mood, and was groping Adam all around the bathroom.

"Oh God, you may be a 103 but you're still sexy!" Hillyard exclaimed, pushing him up against the chest of drawers, on which stood an impressive array of ointments and lotions.

This remark tickled Adam, and as few things work better as an aphrodisiac than shared laughter, he was soon returning Hillyard's kisses.

"This is getting crazy, Ad", said Hillyard "Real crazy how you and me have never consumed our relationship".

"I think you mean consummated", Adam giggled.

"It doesn't matter about mere words", Hillyard laughed "What are we afraid of? Lonts won't mind, in fact he can join in!"

"You are totally debauched!" said Adam "What about Julian and Mieps?"

"They can join in too", said Hillyard "I've wanted you ever since the Winter Palace".

"He's not still going on about that?" said Joby, shrugging off his bath-robe and climbing into the tub.

"That was for Julian", Adam protested.

"Well he should be a bit quicker off the mark then shouldn't he!" said Joby, settling back into the water.

"Adam", said Lonts, appearing with Snowy under his arm "I've been sitting at the foot of the stairs waiting for you to come down".

"Sounds like an old song doesn't it?" said Joby, and broke into tune "I've been sitting at the foot of the stairs waiting for you to come d-o-own!"

"I'm sorry, Lo-Lo", said Adam "I didn't realise you'd gone down. I said I'd get Julian's bath ready for him".

"Which someone else has pinched I see", said Julian, looking daggers at Joby as he came in.

"A bit of patience is required that's all", said Joby.

Lonts propped Snowy on the wash-table and sniffed at a jar of honey-flavoured massage oil.

"I could rub your back with this, Joby", he said "Would you like that?"

"Yes do so", said Julian, sitting on a wicker chair, where Adam proceeded to brush his hair for him "With any luck he'll get attacked by a swarm of bees when he goes outside!"

"Would you like me to do it?" Hillyard leered at Joby.

"No!" said Joby "I'm not sure where Kieran is at the moment".

"You make him sound like a malevolent gnome", said Adam "Who will come out of the woodwork and shout accusations at you!"

"Pretty accurate description of him", Joby grunted, as Lonts began to rub the honey into his shoulders.

"Mieps has just been grizzling at me in the corridor", said Julian to Hillyard "He seems to think there's some conspiracy afoot because he's being made to sleep in a room all by himself. I nearly got the saga of his many years alone in the tin-shed all over again".

"He can come in with us for the rest of the stay can't he?" said Hillyard.

"Oh why not?" said Julian "After 16 in a bed, 3 in a bed seems quite civilised!"

"What are you all doing in here?" said Kieran, drifting in.

"Where did you get to?" said Joby "I woke up and you'd disappeared".

"I didn't want to disturb you", said Kieran "I went up on the roof to do a bit of meditating".

"You shouldn't go up on the roof all by yourself, Kieran", said Lonts "There are a lot of funny people about".

"Yeah, and most of 'em are in the West Wing!" said Joby.

"Somebody might take it into their heads to push you off", Lonts continued, solemnly.

"Who'd want to do that to me?" said Kieran.

"Answers on a roll of wallpaper please!" said Julian.

"Ach you don't need to worry", said Kieran "I'm in no danger, there's no one belonging to my Church round here!"

Joby clambered out of the bath, like a wet seal groping his way onto a rock.

"You can have your bath now", he said to Julian.

"Why thanks!" said Julian.

Bardin was beginning to feel that if it wasn't for their duty to the Festival, life in the caravan would be quite pleasent. True, he had been like a bear with a sore head when they got back from the show the night before. Mainly because when they got home, he found that Toppy had tucked Tamaz up in bed and was spoonfeeding him vegetable soup like a cossetted invalid. Hoowie was left to ladle out everyone else's portions from the big black saucepan on the stove.

Still grumpy and very damp from his impromptu bath in the horse-trough, Bardin had scolded Toppy for not coming up with a more exciting supper for them than vegetable soup, accompanied by slabs of bread and butter, which everyone else was eating with the same relish that they had attacked the swanky breakfast at the golf-club. Toppy had retorted that lamb chops, no less, would be on tomorrow night's menu, garnished with fried tomatoes and sprigs of parsley.

Slightly mollified by the prospect of this culinary feast, Bardin had grudgingly conceeded that he wouldn't therefore "look into" what Toppy "got up to" with the housekeeping money. When he woke up the next morning Bardin was almost feeling benevolent towards the human race, going so far as to regret having beaten Tamaz the day before. He remembered Tamaz crying during the thrashing, and these were genuine tears, not the sly ones he shed when he was manipulating their feelings to his advantage. "Poor kid", thought Bardin "I was a bit harsh, whipping him like that. But someone could have panicked and killed him, and then how would we be feeling today? Pretty bloody grim!"

This benevolent feeling lasted until he was drinking his morning coffee, lying in bed whilst the others were attending to various things outside. Then Hawkefish turned up.

"I have no objection to avant garde theatre, dear boy", he said "Quite the opposite in fact. But you are supposed to be a comic turn, and reducing the audience to a state of paralysed terror does not really fit in with the accepted bounds of family entertainment!"

"O.K", Bardin grunted over his enamel mug "We'll keep Tamaz out of tonight's show in case there's any backlash. We'll work something out around him".

"I know it's a shame, he is an excellent performer", said Hawkefish "Even more impressive when one considers he's had absolutely no formal training at all. Many comics must envy you your 'female' stooge".

"There aren't many quite like him around!" said Bardin.

"I have a suggestion you might like to consider as a temporary stand-in", Hawkefish began, cautiously.

"Not Hortense?" said Bardin in horror, and then saw from Hawkefish's expression that he had guessed right "No! No! NO! She's mediocre enough as a hoofer, as a comic she'd be downright diabolical!"

"I think you're being a little unfair", said Hawkefish.

"No I'm not, I'm being accurate", said Bardin "Keep her buried in the chorus-line where she belongs! No audience is going to warm to her, Hawkefish! They won't take her to their hearts. Even though I have to say it would give me great satisfaction to see her on the receiving end of a custard pie!"

"You don't throw any pies at Tamaz", Hawkefish remarked.

"No, we'd never live to tell the tale!" said Bardin "Hortense is too cold, too aloof, to make a clown, Hawkefish, it'd be a disaster. You don't do this to us!"

"Think with your head and not your heart", said Hawkefish "It would only be for a couple of performances. I'll leave you to think it over. Come to see me at noon as usual, and we will discuss it further then".

Tamaz had overheard this entire conversation and was furious. After Hawkefish had left, he went over to Toppy, who was filling buckets with clean water at the standpipe. He grabbed one and went over to Hortense, who was sitting on the steps of her wagon nearby, and chucked the lot over her. Hortense screamed like a mad woman in Bedlam.

"Tamaz, no!" Toppy exclaimed, grabbing him by the arm "That was very naughty. Come away".

Hortense pursued them like a dripping Fury back to their caravan. Bengo had seen the whole thing, and was now inside, excitedly breaking the news to Bardin.

"Don't come in here", said Bardin, when Hortense appeared in their doorway "You'll get our carpet wet!"

"And don't look at Tamaz like that", said Bengo "What do you expect when you go poaching another person's part?"

Hysterical with rage, Hortense clouted Bengo across the face. Bardin pushed her out of the wagon and told her, that if she knew what was good for her, she'd go back to her own wagon at once.

"Are you o.k?" he said afterwards, examining Bengo's face.

"Yeah, she just grazed me that's all", said Bengo.

"You just got in the way that's all", said Bardin, sympathetically.

"I made a career out of that!" said Bengo.

"I think we should cancel all the ring acts", said Toppy, tartly "And just give the audience backstage passes. There's more goes on behind the scenes than in front!"

"That's just showbusiness for you", Bardin sighed.

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