The Green Mummy (Chapter 3, page 1 of 9)


Previous Page
Next Page

Chapter 3

One member of the Braddock household was not included in the general
staff, being a mere appendage of the Professor himself. This was a
dwarfish, misshapen Kanaka, a pigmy in height, but a giant in breadth,
with short, thick legs, and long, powerful arms. He had a large head,
and a somewhat handsome face, with melancholy black eyes and a fine set
of white teeth. Like most Polynesians, his skin was of a pale bronze and
elaborately tattooed, even the cheeks and chin being scored with curves
and straight lines of mystical import. But the most noticeable thing
about him was his huge mop of frizzled hair, which, by some process,
known only to himself, he usually dyed a vivid yellow. The flaring locks
streaming from his head made him resemble a Peruvian image of the sun,
and it was this peculiar coiffure which had procured for him the odd
name of Cockatoo. The fact that this grotesque creature invariably wore
a white drill suit, emphasized still more the suggestion of his likeness
to an Australian parrot.

Cockatoo had come from the Solomon Islands in his teens to the colony
of Queensland, to work on the plantations, and there the Professor had
picked him up as his body servant. When Braddock returned to marry Mrs.
Kendal, the boy had refused to leave him, although it was represented
to the young savage that he was somewhat too barbaric for sober England.
Finally, the Professor had consented to bring him over seas, and had
never regretted doing so, for Cockatoo, finding his scientific master a
true friend, worshipped him as a visible god. Having been captured when
young by Pacific black-birders, he talked excellent English, and from
contact with the necessary restraints of civilization was, on the whole,
extremely well behaved. Occasionally, when teased by the villagers and
his fellow-servants, he would break into childish rages, which bordered
on the dangerous. But a word from Braddock always quieted him, and when
penitent he would crawl like a whipped dog to the feet of his divinity.
For the most part he lived entirely in the museum, looking after the
collection and guarding it from harm. Lucy--who had a horror of the
creature's uncanny looks--objected to Cockatoo waiting at the table,
and it was only on rare occasions that he was permitted to assist the
harassed parlormaid. On this night the Kanaka acted excellently as a
butler, and crept softly round the table, attending to the needs of the
diners. He was an admirable servant, deft and handy, but his blue-lined
face and squat figure together with the obtrusively golden halo, rather
worried Mrs. Jasher. And, indeed, in spite of custom, Lucy also felt
uncomfortable when this gnome hovered at her elbow. It looked as though
one of the fantastical idols from the museum below had come to haunt the
living.

Previous Page
Next Page


Rate This Book

Current Rating: 2.7/5 (212 votes cast)



Review This Book or Post a Comment