By Chris Morley
What nobody knew was that the painting had been stolen by Tiney-Danglers’s nemesis- fellow gentleman scientist , French fop-extraordinaire and sometime art-thief Pierre Uff-Knackeurs. Having stolen a set of William’s initial blueprints for the SEX Machine, he had managed to create his own crude equivalent, which nobody had realised was disguised as the piano in the corner of the library.
While the massed crowd was downstairs revelling in Julian’s cruel treatment of Georgiana, while trying not to laugh at the squeakiness of his voice, Pierre crept to the easel.
‘ Theese is almost, ‘ow you say in English, too easy!’ he laughed to himself.
He knew he had to get the artwork as soon as possible.
‘ Sounds like Julienne, ‘e need elocution lessons, the squeaky leetle mousey’ he couldn’t help but giggle. ‘ And zat stupid, insignificant Willie ‘as nowhere to ‘ide now- once I finish with ‘im ‘e weel rue the day ‘e crossed me. At least with zis painting, I ‘ave leverage, silly Julienne will ‘ave to ‘elp me. Per’aps I can appeal to ‘is vanity, tell ‘im I weel ‘elp ‘im win the hand of the fair lady…after all I am French, zis is what we do all day, non?’ he chuckled.
He looked around, checking that he was not being watched. ‘ Ah, the coast, she is clear..I think.’ he said, carrying the painting across to the instrument. The risk of being spotted by Julian, whom he had taught all he knew when the Lord was a boy, studying at the Academy of St Ethelbert the Manly, was quickly becoming too great.
He hurried over to sit at the piano keyboard, fingers ablur as he tried to play the sequence of notes which would open the machine for him. A nice, easy climb inside what looked to all the world like a standard grand piano, and he would be gone, nobody any the wiser. Just as he was about to play the first note, though, he heard a pistol suspiciously close to his head.
‘ Merde!’ he yelled. ‘ ‘oo are you? What do you want?’
‘ I’ll be taking that painting, thank you.’ said the voice, breathing down his neck. ‘ Nobody must be allowed to see it, at least not until I’ve done all I can to avert it happening. And that’s where you come in, my frog-leg munching friend’.
The figure moved forward. It was Marguerite!