Chapter 30

The Foot

A month passed. Deep in the dungeons, Mr Dovetail worked in a kind of frenzy. He had to finish the monstrous wooden foot, so he could see Daisy again. He’d forced himself to believe that Spittleworth would keep his word, and let him leave the dungeon after he’d completed his task, even though a voice in his head kept saying, They’ll never let you go after this. Never.

To drive out fear, Mr Dovetail started singing the national anthem, over and over again:

‘Coooorn – ucopia, give praises to the king,

Coooorn – ucopia, lift up your voice and sing…’

His constant singing annoyed the other prisoners even more than the sound of his chisel and hammer. The now thin and ragged Captain Goodfellow begged him to stop, but Mr Dovetail paid no attention. He’d become a little delirious. He had a confused idea that if he showed himself a faithful subject of the king, Spittleworth might think him less of a danger, and release him. So the carpenter’s cell rang with the banging and scraping of his tools and the national anthem, and slowly but surely, a monstrous clawed foot took shape, with a long handle out of the top, so that a man on horseback could press it deep into soft ground.

When at last the wooden foot was finished, Spittleworth, Flapoon, and Major Roach came down into the dungeons to inspect it.

‘Yes,’ said Spittleworth slowly, examining the foot from every angle. ‘Very good indeed. What do you think, Roach?’

‘I think that’ll do very nicely, my lord,’ replied the major.

‘You’ve done well, Dovetail,’ Spittleworth told the carpenter. ‘I’ll tell the warder to give you extra rations tonight.’

‘But you said I’d go free when I finished,’ said Mr Dovetail, falling to his knees, pale and exhausted. ‘Please, my lord. Please. I have to see my daughter… please.

Mr Dovetail reached for Lord Spittleworth’s bony hand, but Spittleworth snatched it back.

‘Don’t touch me, traitor. You should be grateful I didn’t have you put to death. I may yet, if this foot doesn’t do the trick – so if I were you, I’d pray my plan works.’

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