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By Sarah Hapgood

"I don't know how you do it", Hillyard groaned, first thing the following morning "But you're the only one, apart from Adam, who hasn't got a hangover".

"Naturally resilient you see", said Julian, standing in the full glare of the sun and giving himself a vigorous dry rub-down with a towel "There, I feel a million times better for that. All I need now is a quick blow-job to set me up for the day".

"Well don't look at me", said Hillyard, shakily "That's the last thing I feel like doing at the moment!"

Nearby Joby was running a wet flannel over Tamaz, who sat sulkily by the camp-fire. Next to him Lonts sat in his dressing-gown and nappy, smoking a clay pipe. This was a habit he had taken to recently, although Adam confined him to one pipe first thing in the morning.

"I dunno how you can smoke that stuff", said Joby "It smells like old socks to me".

"It's relaxing", said Lonts "But I don't inhale it properly".

"That's what they all say", said Joby "You're not helping me much this morning, Tamaz".

Tamaz stuck his tongue out in reply.

"He's really funny sometimes isn't he, Joby?" Lonts laughed.

"Hilarious", Joby grunted "I dunno how we managed for entertainment before he came along!"

He slapped the flannel on Tamaz's face and wiped it vigorously. Tamaz got irritated and tried to push him away.

"Give him a kiss, Joby", said Lonts "He won't be so grumpy then".

"Didn't enough of that go on last night?" said Joby "I can't believe what I got up to with Julian in the cart!"

"Julian's very exciting sometimes isn't he?" said Lonts "But Tamaz is still scowling, Joby".

"I'll get you to notice me before the day is out", said Tamaz, sounding desperate "I mean it".

"I don't like the sound of that", said Joby.

Meanwhile Ransey was sitting nearby, having buckets of cold water chucked over him. Bengo and Toppy were marching backwards and forwards like the broomsticks in 'Fantasia', on his orders, to try and sober him up by regular drenchings.

"Make it quicker", he said "You don't think I'm enjoying this do you!"

Kieran had been woken up by Adam with the unwelcome reminder that some time back he had volunteered to drive the cart on the second day. Somehow he managed to clamber onto the box, with his cap pulled down over his eyes. He got Joby onto the seat beside him, and tied him to it with a length of rope to stop him falling off in his fragile state.

"There you are", he said "You can't get away from me now".

"I'm not going anywhere in a hurry", Joby groaned.

It was a remarkably peaceful journey, with their cart bringing up the rear of everyone else. The ones travelling in the back managed to sleep for most of the bumpy journey, apart from Tamaz, who sat glaring at Joby's back, whilst chewing on his fur stole.

"THIS IS THE TOONDOR LANPIN TRAVELLING SHOW!" one of the performers at the front shouted out at regular intervals, as they neared the various hamlets and settlements that were scattered round Woll's vast estate "THIS IS THE TOONDOR LANPIN TRAVELLING SHOW!"

"God help you all", said Joby.

The countryside in this area was dramatic and beautiful. Shaded by mountains, Woll's estate was a medley of pine trees and mountain streams, fresh and easy on the eye after the barrenness of the marshes. To the Toondories it could all look too good to be true, like some Wagnerian image of the perfect rural idyll. All the workers on Woll's estate seemed to have highly-skilled useful jobs, and all exhibited a jovial, but serene expression on their faces.

"It's not surprising", said Adam "Man's attitude is dictated by his surroundings. It would be easy to be serene in this location. It's all so fresh and clean".

"Makes you want to find a dustbin and tip up all the rubbish out of it", said Joby, unimpressed "I'm surprised they don't make cuckoo clocks!"

Woll's whole estate was so enormous that they still didn't have a full glimpse of his house. They had seen pictures of it, but even then they still hadn't fully grasped just how huge his land was.

The actual charity performance proper wasn't to take place until the following evening, in the cobbled courtyard of his house. Tonight, they were to entertain his agricultural workers in a field at the base of one of the mountains. Everyone involved felt that this would probably turn out to be the most enjoyable show.

Adam was kept busy setting up the teepee, and making sure everyone had all they required for their different acts. At the same time he was trying hard not to be too shrewish, although this was hard going when he saw how dejected Bengo looked. Needless to say Hillyard had set off to explore the area like a white hunter on a safari, spoilt for rich pickings of crumpet. When he came back to help set up the Big Top, Adam had remonstrated with him to show Bengo a bit more consideration. Hillyard, every the amiable (if misguided) one, had said "alright there, Bengo?" and playfully knocked his wide-brimmed sun-hat off his head.

"I'm rather afraid that's the best you're going to get", Adam had sighed, after Hillyard had gone off again to do some mallet-swinging "He's not a bad person, Bengo, just has the attention-span of a gnat that's all".

"Serves him right for falling for the lumbering great wart-hog in the first place", said Julian, as he passed by.

"Those two were made for each other", said Adam, which at least caused Bengo to smile.

During the show itself Adam hung around backstage to help Finia with the quick costume changes and the make-up. He took an occasional peak through the curtains and was pleased for everyone's sake that the audience seemed to be enjoying it all so much. The estate workers had turned up in their coats, as the evenings were getting chilly now in this part of the world, but they still relaxed easily, and threw themselves into all the entertainment.

Bengo and Bardin had gone on first as a kind of warm-up routine, and Adam stood ready to clean Bengo off when he reappeared backstage.

"It wasn't so bad", said Bengo, triumphantly "Bardin never managed to get my face once with the squshed tomatoes routine. He'll be hopping mad about that!"

"I notice you managed to kick him a fair amount at one stage", said Adam.

"Twenty-six times", said Bengo, proudly "The most I've ever managed. The punters loved it!"

"Not half as much as you did!" Adam laughed.

Next Lonts appeared in his furry drawers, to be dirtied up for his mime routine, where he had to rescue Glynis from Bardin's dastardly clutches. Adam got so carried away with rubbing wet earth into his bare skin that by the end of it Julian said he looked like Return Of The Swamp Creature.

"And why is Joby walking around with his flies undone?" he said "Is he hoping for another session with me?"

"It's part of the idetikit for his act", said Adam, having great trouble not sounding shrewish "I don't know why the village idiot has to have his flies undone, but Joby insists that this should be the case!"

Joby's scene with Hawkefish in 'Murder At Nightmare Hall' went down very well, and it was generally agreed that Joby showed hitherto undisplayed acting skills, and that he very much looked the part. Joby wasn't as pleased with this compliment as everyone expected!

The barn-dance scene followed soon after, and this went down a storm with the audience as it was lively and gave them plenty to look at. Finia and Tamaz had been drafted in to bolster the female contingent, which was still too outnumbered by the men, and if Finia, in his skin-tight gold satin dress and feather boa, looked a little too glamorous for a rustic Ye Olde Barn Dance, no one cared. All the extras, the ones not actively involved in the dancing that is, were making full use of the cider laid out on the sidelines. So much so that this scene looked like it could go on all night given half a chance. Joby did worry if they would be able to get Tamaz out of the ring before the drink went to his head completely.

"What's the betting he hasn't got his pants on today either?" Joby groaned, sitting on the sidelines "I should've checked before we came on".

"I haven't either", said Finia "This dress is too tight. They'd show up under them".

"Yeah, but you're not likely to make a spectacle of yourself", said Joby.

"I could", said Finia, tipsily "I could show them my castration scar!"

"Don't say things like that, Finia", said Joby "I'm feeling too tender as it is".

Tamaz suddenly climbed up onto the barrier next to him and shoved the skirt of his dress over Joby's head. If felt like it took an age for Joby to struggle out of the reams of satin and tulle. The audience thought it was all part of the act and laughed accordingly. Joby grabbed Tamaz by his hand and yanked him backstage, which wasn't quite the decisive movement everyone had expected from the village idiot.

"That's it!" he cried, once they were safely out of sight of the audience "I've had it up to here with you. You're lucky I don't take Julian's riding-crop to you!"

"It got you to notice me properly", said Tamaz.

"So did everyone else!" Joby roared.

"Those halfwitted bumpkins", Tamaz snorted "It'd be the best thrill they'd had in years!"

"I was just coming to get you, Tamaz", said Kieran, hoving into view "You'd better get changed for our act soon. We're doing the post-intermission number".

"I've a good mind to send him back to our tent", said Joby.

"You can't do that!" Kieran exclaimed "I'd have to skate on me own! And did you know your flies were undone?"

"Yes!" Joby screamed, in frustration "It's part of my stage persona!"

"I realise that", said Kieran "But I think the way Tamaz has got you excited you'd better do 'em up to be on the safe side. If you poke out anymore I'll be able to hang me beer-mug on you!"

"Good evening, my little cherubs", Hillyard boomed "Joby's all ready to greet me I see!"

Joby gave a sigh of exasperation and did up his flies, just as the barn dance extras hurtled in from the ring. Finia knew his duties, and immediately began unhooking the back of Tamaz's frock, prior to stuffing him into his roller-skating clothes.

"I see you've been enjoying yourself", said Finia to Hillyard.

"Yeah, almost as pissed as you by the looks of things", said Hillyard.

"Is it safe for the rest of us to turn our backs on you?" said Joby.

"Why don't we all go for a skinny-dip after the show?" said Hillyard "Think how romantic it'll be in the moonlight, at the foot of the mountains".

"Think how parky it'll be!" said Kieran "The nights are a lot cooler here than in Toondor Lanpin. Anyway, I thought you'd be heading up to the big house to see Woll".

"I expect we'll be seeing plenty of him tomorrow", said Hillyard.

"You can see what you turned down", said Finia "Just think all this could've been yours one day if Woll had copped it".

"I wouldn't know what to do with it", said Hillyard "What the hell do you do with a house that size when there's only one of you?"

"You could sleep in a different room every night", Lonts approached, still covered in his 'stage make-up'.

"Yeah, it'd probably take you about a year to get round 'em all", said Joby.

Hillyard gave a shiver.

"Don't talk about it", he said "It sounds too depressing. You'll all have to give me a hug to cheer me up".

They crowded onto him. Lonts in his mud, Tamaz halfway out of his dress, and the others looking equally extraordinary.

"You're all so thin", said Hillyard, trying to hold them all at once "Apart from Lonts".

"Who is getting mud over us all", said Tamaz, looking down at his bare breasts which were now streaked with the stuff.

Bengo ran up behind Bardin, as both of them were to do another short turn before the intermission. Bengo stooped to rub his hands in the sawdust, in order to dry some of the perspiration from them. Hillyard impulsively squeezed him, and the little clown looked as though he was about to burst into tears.

"You make me so happy when you do that!" he wailed, and then ran into the ring behind his sparring-partner.

"It never ceases to amaze me how someone who's spose to be so harmless", said Joby, looking Hillyard up and down "Has caused so much havoc and misery".

"Misery? Me?" said Hillyard "Not when I can cheer you up so easily, surely!"

And he planted a huge kiss on Joby's cheek.

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