Tepic approached the Graveyard cautiously, not everyone would be happy with the idea of digging up a grave, even for the best of reasons, but an urchins got to do what he has to do…
When he entered the gate Mr Arnold was there, Gadget had said some of the adults might come by, though Tepic was unsure exactly why, after all, this was urchin business, and a grim one at that. After exchanging greetings, they chatted a bit, and Tepic discovered that the reason the others were there was to get rid of Mr Metier’s ghost, possibly in case he was up to something no good. Well, of course he was up to no good, it was him, wasn’t it, you don’t expect a mink to be cat, do you?
Thinking about his own reasons for wanting the hat, and what he intended to do with it, he knew he didn’t care if the ghost was gone or not, it was doing the right thing for the urchin that mattered, he was knocked off without thought or care, and he deserved the chance to have his killer as his servant for all time….
Gadget arrived, with the hat, that big floppy one with the feather that Tepic remembered so well, then his old friend Gilhooly turned up. The boys exchanged greetings, Gilhooly regreting he had not brought a spade. They bantered about sharing the work, teasing Gadget that he needed the exercise, and Mr Arnold offered to assist.
“yer welcome, Mr Arnold, an right glad we’ll be of yer help, but you don’t have to, tis urchin business…” Tepic said, still unsure of the intentions of the cat.
Mr Arnold replied “I was once an urchin, though I had to live without your family nature.”
Tepic nodded in acceptance, as Dr Sonnerstein arrived. To the fox boy’s relief, the adults seemed to be leaving the matter in his hands, and he began to dig into the still fairly fresh grave, just above where the poor urchin had been buried. Gilhooly passed a small bag of herbs to the Doctor, saying that Professor Stormy had sent them and that they were to help against some types of magic.
At this point, as Tepic had half expected, the ghost arrived, taunting them, seemingly happy about his fate. Well, Tepic had his own ideas about that, he had heard there were a lot of rather nasty gods fighting over the ghost, and he guessed that whatever fate was in store for him would not be pleasent. In that case, being the servant of an urchin who had undoubtedly gone to a better place would be his best option. Tepic chuckled grimly to himself, being bound to service, with no way to play his little games would be the worst punishment for someone like Metier. Both Dr. Sonnerstein and Mr. Arnold were unsure though, as they could not see what the ghost would gain from what they were about to do, and proceedings were delayed, particularly when the idea that the ghost was helping the City by getting rid of the red mists was raised. Tepic though was certain, this had nothing to do with the machines and the trouble the City was having, there were plenty of decent people the City could rely on to help, including all the urchins who had found a home there, and both Gilhooly and Gadget agreed.
The two adults, despite the ghosts continuing taunting, set too with a will, and between them and the urchins they soon reached the hessian shroud covering the bodies within. Glihooly shivered a bit as they reached their goal, but assured them he was still resolute as Tepic pulled apart the rough cloth above where he guessed the urchin’s cold hand would be…..
“Should we wake him? He should find it just fine without waking….” Dr. Sonnerstein asked.
“wake im? wot, the urchin? NO!!!” Tepic was horrified at the thought, he had given the boy his coin himself, when he was buried, and knew the lad was safe wherever he was, not needing to be brought back for this. He was surprised then when a glow began over the grave, and a faint voice could be heard saying “You shouldn’t have…”. The glow coalesced into the shape of the urchin, and the voice repeated it’s entreaty.
It was a moment of confusion, with the ghost and adults seeming to think the binding had been done, and that the poor boy had been drawn back into the world to be with Metier forever. Only the urchins realised that they had not yet placed the hat in the dead lad’s hand, or said the binding that should have made the ghost his servant in the next world. They knew he had come back to tell them not to do it, rejecting the madman! Tepic chuckled to himself, wondering what it would do to the ghost to know he had been turned down by a poor urchin, and no sooner than the thought arrive then he shouted it to the shadowy figure.
He ignored the insult, and tried to turn things to make it look like it was one of his games, that he had been testing the others to see if they would choose selfishly or decide to take a path for the greatest good, and by deciding to the decent thing they had taken the self-serving route, but the urchins knew better, it was always after things had happened that adults, even ghosts tried to turn things around, claiming they knew what was going to happen. Even the Doctor seemed to be saying he knew the ghost couldn’t go as a servant to wherever the poor urchin had gone, as those places were barred to him, so the only way the binding could work would be if the urchin came to the ghost. The Doctor was a decent chap, but why hadn’t he said that before they began? Typical of adults, Tepic thought… then he had an idea!
Jumping up out of the grave, he asked if anyone had a copper nail. The Doctor realised straight off what he was up to, and after rooting round in his pockets, handed over a roof peg of the metal. The ghost had wandered off, so Tepic could do the deed without interference while the others filled in the grave.
He placed the hat on the trunk of an old graveyard tree, pit the point of the nail on the crown and hammered it in with the edge of his spade while crying out loudly “with this nail, i binds thee mad old nutter, never to venture from this spot, an when this old tree falls an dies, to drop into whatever hell decides yer it’s property!”
This brought the ghost back, but he seemed unaffected, claiming he’d got a stronger pact with something larger, and it was possible that the tree, being in the City, just strengthened his bond to the City itself. Tepic wondered to himself what would happen when the City was finished with the madman, and if the ghost was going to be happy with whatever bargain he had struck. Mr Arnold and the Doctor talked about the pacts the ghost had made with all the different gods in New Babbage, and how they were looking to break those bindings. Perhaps after that had been done the ghost could be fixed in one place. It was his claim to be working for the City that was the main concern, though Tepic thought his City had better taste than to make any deals with madmen like Metier had been. Gilhooly thought it might be an idea to try to talk with the City, and suggested someone might ask Mr Tenk about that, as of anyone, he would be the most likely to know the voice of New Babbage. It turned out that none of them felt confident bringing the news to the Clockwinder, and they decided the Doctor would talk to Miss Bookworm, in the hopes she could approach him.
Now the matter had been settled, they talked about the machines, how to deal with the red mists, and about the discoveries in the Van Creed factory, before the company parted, each going their separate way.
Tepic walked back to his camp, content with the evening’s events. It had been disappointing the urchin had turned down having Metier as his servant, but it was his choice, and they had made the offer. True, maybe the mad ghost may have thought he would have enjoyed being in a heaven with the urchin, but Tepic knew it didn’t work like that and Metier would not have been able to play any of his games in the next world, and would have had to have been a faithful servant. Oh, that would have been good! Still, now he could concentrate on helping his friends, and his City, knowing he had done the right thing.
This is how Tepic saw the evening’s events, it is more than possible that others saw from a different perspective…..
The undertaker watched with great interest the strange proceedings taking place in the cemetery. He lurked casually in an alley, concealed by a gaslamp shadow.
They disrupted a grave. Desecrators! A glowing light then spread faintly around their unseemly operation, though the undertaker couldn’t make out precisely what cast it. After eventually filling in the hole, one of the street rats nailed a hat to a tree.
After the small party of grave robbers disbanded, he walked over to the tree, his interest piqued. He had no idea whose hat it was, the foppish old-fashioned thing, but suspected it was someone whom the wretched little parasites had reason to hate.
He flicked the brim and left it hanging as he walked away.