The banks of St Bacchanalia’s Asylum are deep solitudes, places of dark and sombre reflection. Yes dear reader, places in which many a Goveen monk, pondering the marshes of Grodden Parnock , whilst lifting his heart to the thunderous heavens, has leapt head first towards the essence of Gove and out of the abbey’ windows. Indeed the boglands of St Bacchanalia’s Asylum lie surfeit with the rotted skeleton of these devotees, who have, they say, ascended unto the essence of Gove! Sweet Gove! Oh that these acolytes might have found more prepossessing ways of embracing thy exalted munificence!
Here scuttle two such initiates now, red-eyed, cassocked and manacled. Manacled?! Manacled! Stumbling over bog and marsh, grunting and panting profane utterances, moving at such a speed that one might think the hounds of hell to be at their backs. As indeed they might be for hark! The alarums of St Bacchnalia’s Asylum shriek maniacally in the distance, t’is certain the farm dogs are not far behind!
“Faster damn you! Move faster Horace! Molten Tussock lies ahead, t’is but half a league I tell thee!”
“Mah Lord I cannot! Me legs won’t take me much further, I’m tuckered aht!”
But Lord Wilberforce will not be thwarted, for murder most foul, accompanied by utter incompetence, has now thrust this angel of the apostasy forth upon this world and he will not be thrust back! Had anyone but Horace L’eauregarde hampered his progress! But t’is Leauregarde, co-partaker in his crimes and sufferer-in-kind of the horrors of St Bacchanalia.
T’was he who had freed them from that vast maw of madness! T’is he whom he regales with tales of murders past (bestial and depredatory)which they have committed and intend to commit. Murders which led to the abrupt termination of the life of debauchery they had so vigorously enjoyed! Shocking crimes which, whilst staining the family honour irrevocably, provoked no more than a languorous yawn of pleasure from his Lordship Wilberforce, hence St Bacchanalia!
Leauregarde, his strength renewed, hobbles on and soon finds himself entering a well-worn graveyard on the outskirts of Molten Tussock. Ah! Molten Tussock! Lately home of the deceased Reverend Tout-Puissant who now lies in that part of the graveyard reserved for unhallowed deaths. But now here lies a sight for which the wit of man cannot conceive an explanation, a boy, cherubic in appearance kneels before a gravestone, a worn copy of the Testimonies of Gove clasped to his little breast, a lone, forlorn presence in in this solitary place, he alone mourns the passing of the Reverend.
“Oh, but look your Lordship!Look!” dishevelled and devilish, Leauregarde his face awash with murderous glee, advances but the cold grip of Wilberforce Hesketh-Elderberry stops him.
“Oh Sweet Gove! Mystery of mysteries! Oh! Tueri of my soul! Have mercy upon me!” cries out Monty sobbing so quietly (that even these two fresh escaped inmates must creep closer to hear him) Monty Eckard plucks a sparkling white handkerchief from his pocket and wipes his flushed face with it.
So bereft, so heartbroken, once plucked like a brand from the burning and now plummeting back into that vast maw of Malthusian catastrophe some called London, for now his Iron-Slitting apprenticeship is past where else is he to go? The Union Rep had promised him a berth at the most prestigious ragged school in all of London, run by the most estimable Lady Hesketh-Elderberry, but what mean’t that to such as he? Severed from the succulent vines of the Goveen priesthood he must surely perish!
The poor boy sobbed and sobbed as if his little heart were as broken as his little neck might well have been, had Leauregarde (and not Lord Wilberforce) grasped it.
“Keep still you little devil or I’ll cut your throat!!”
“Oh don’t kill me sir! Don’t hurt me! You are a Goveen are you not sir? Does it not say in the Testimonies of Gove that none are so deserving as the poor?”
“Which sonnet?” asked Lord Wilberforce as he tightened his hold on the boy’s shirt front,
“The Patriarcha! As composed by Brother Filmer!”
“Recite it to me!” said he loosening his grip and the child did so, hand upon his shirt front as he swayed hypnotically from right to left and back again reciting the Sonnet of Patriarcha in the sonorous tones of the late deceased Tout-Puissant. T’was wondrous to behold and Lord Wilberforce little doubted that, with Leauregarde kept in check, the child would prove a most affable companion on his long journey back to London.
“Cor ad loquitur my child! Your utterances have flooded my spirit with such joy!”
Clasping the child’s small, cold palm in his, his eyes rolled heavenward and he sighed,
“The blue light?”
“The bluer light my child! So smitten was I by his holiness that I prayed that he might take me up to the third heaven. To that exulted paradise whence sit all those who have attained a degree of spiritual perfection!”
“I’m hungry child, have you something I and my companion, Brother Leauregarde, may eat?”
“I have a little bread and some cheese sir, and a cold chicken stuffed with Turkey Twizzler compote”
And as the two men fell upon the victuals ravenously was ever a boy more rapt with joy? Alone no longer, no longer bereft, but rapt! Rapt with joy and no longer alone! Seated upon the gravestone of the Reverend Tout-Puissant, swinging his dainty legs to and fro, he observed his two companions. He noted for the first time their manacled feet and hands and hesitantly asked,
“Shall I fetch an iron file from the blacksmith’s forge? Then you may cut your chains and we may be away to London!”
L’eauregarde favoured the child with a calculating look, does he mean to report them to a constable? But Lord Wilberforce clasped the child to his muddied cassock and bestowing kisses upon his head, sent him off with the unction “May Gove go with you!”
“Sweet Gove” replied the poor, deluded, acolyte, for acolyte he had become and to one whose fiendish crimes once sparked riots through half the slums of London!