Cordelia Bright and the Headless Orphans: Chapter Four – An Evening of Entertainment

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The story so far: Cordelia’s first day at the St Justus Home has been blighted by a terrible near choking as she fed a headless orphan lumpy porridge. Sister Veronica Odium seemed to have staged the mishap, and takes every opportunity to be horrible to Cordelia…

That evening, the St Justus Home was to be open to the public. A charity concert was to be given by the orphans to raise much needed funds. Chairs were set out in the main hall, and at seven o’clock the doors were opened and the great and the good of the locality were ushered inside to sit on them at a cost of two shillings each. Matron Blessed had been working with the orphans for weeks to make sure that the entertainment would be a good one. She told Cordelia that, as she had had such a difficult first day, she could take a seat in the audience and simply enjoy.
The show was truly magnificent. It started with young Jeremy at the piano, playing a selection of pieces by Claude Debussey. The music was so gentle and sweet that it was hard to believe that the young lad playing it could not hear a single note on account of his being completely headless, and was reliant on feeling the atmospheric vibrations to ‘sense’ the melody.
During his third piece, La fille aux cheveux de lin (the girl with the flaxen hair, he was joined on the stage by Jemima, Belinda and Matilda, who each held a length of thin wire in their hands, to the end of which was attached a paper butterfly. By holding the butterflies over the blowholes atop their necks and carefully controlling their breathing they were able to create a most realistic illusion that the butterflies were dancing in time to the music. The audience applauded enthusiastically.
Belinda and Matilda then left the stage, and Jemima produced a flute, which, by means of a special fitting, she was able to insert into her blow hole. She then accompanied young Jeremy in a lovely duet of Lizt’s Liebestraume number three.
Then the stage was cleared. William strode on. And places a small brass valve device into his blow hole to which was attached a rubber toy balloon. He breathed in and out, and slowly the balloon inflated to the size of an orange, the size of a head, and then, for comic effect, slightly larger. A most amusing face had been sketched onto the ballon, with wide eyes, large nose, and a huge moustache. Matthew then entered, and added to the hilarity by placing an imitation parrot on each of his of his friend’s shoulders. The headless boys then went to opposite sides of the stage and faced one another. Matthew then took a short, thin bamboo tube from his back pocket ant placed it into his blowhole. Leaning forward he pointed the bamboo at the other lad. Then placed something into the end of it. He breathed in slowly and out sharply and ping! One of the parrots fell to the floor. He repeated the process and cleared the parrot from his friend’s other shoulder. Then, as Jeremy took the stage to play a roll on a snare drum, he loaded and took aim a third time. As the roll reached its climax, Matthew expelled a mighty shot and BANG! His friend’s balloon head exploded in a cloud of smoke, from which flew a white dove, which landed on Matthew’s arm. The audience applauded more heartily than they had done all evening.
As the applause died down, one set of hands continued to clap. Slowly, almost sarcastically. Heads turned to look at the man who had recently entered at the back of the room, faces set grim when they saw who it was. Dressed in black top hat and cape, with black jewelled cane and thin black curly moustache. It was none other than the renowned businessman Sir Jasper De Jasper!
“Bravo” he drawled loudly “What a clever trick! I hope it raises enough money to pay my rent!

How much does the orphanage owe Sir Jasper? Is he really as evil as he looks? Be sure to come back to the same place tomorrow to read the next thrilling episode!

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