He rules the Underground. The bit with the trains

Richard was handed a bar of vending-machine-sized Cadbury's Fruit and Nut chocolate, and a large silver goblet, ornamented around the rim with what appeared to Richard to be sapphires. The goblet was filled with Coca-Cola. The jester, whose name appeared to be Tooley, cleared his throat, loudly. 'I would like to propose a toast to our guests,' he said. 'A child, a bravo, a fool. May they each get what they deserve.
''Which one am I?' whispered Richard to Hunter.
'The fool, of course,' she said.
'In the old days,' said Halvard dismally, after sipping his Coke, 'we had wine. I prefer wine. It is not as sticky.'
'Do all the machines just give you things like that?' asked Richard.
'Oh yes,' said the old man. 'They listen to the Earl, y'see. He rules the Underground. The bit with the trains. He's lord of the Central, the Circle, the Jubilee, the Victorious, the Bakerloo – well, all of them except the Underside Line.'
'What's the Underside Line?' asked Richard.
Halvard shook his head, and pursed his lips. Hunter brushed Richard's shoulder with her fingers. 'Remember what I told you about the shepherds of Shepherd's Bush?'
'You said I did not want to meet them, and there were some things I was probably better off not knowing.'
'Good,' she said. 'So now you can add the Underside Line to the list of things you are better off not knowing.'
Door came back down the carriage towards them. She was smiling. 'The Earl's agreed to help us,' she said. 'Come on. He's meeting us in the library.' Richard was almost proud of the way he didn't say 'What library?' or point out that you couldn't put a library on a train. Instead he followed Door towards the Earl's empty throne, and round the back of it, and through the connecting door behind it, and into the library. It was a huge stone room, with a high wooden ceiling. Each wall was covered with shelves. Each shelf was laden with objects: there were books, yes. But the shelves were filled with a host of other things: tennis rackets, hockey sticks, umbrellas, a spade, a notebook computer, a wooden leg, several mugs, dozens of shoes, pairs of binoculars, a small log, six glove puppets, a lava lamp, various CDs, records (LPs, 45s and 78s), cassette tapes and eight-tracks, dice, toy cars, assorted pairs of dentures, watches, flashlights, four garden gnomes of assorted sizes (two fishing, one of them mooning, the last smoking a cigar), piles of newspapers, magazines, grimoires, three-legged stools, a box of cigars, a plastic nodding-head Alsatian, socks... The room was a tiny empire of lost property.
'This is his real domain,' muttered Hunter. 'Things lost. Things forgotten.'
The Author's Preferred Text
Review/Headline Book Publishing 2000
pp 159–160

Kommentaare ei ole: