Picture by Lawrence UP: London Icons III
John Rivet, Brazier, is in his workshop, along with his tools, his wife Elizabeth, three chairs, a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese, an empty jug, seventeen pieces of paper, a mouse (unseen), the large table he uses for work, the smaller table they use for meals, two cobwebs, and the legs and body of a very large brass horse. The head of the very large horse, and the body of its brass rider, disappear through the ceiling to emerge in the bedroom above. Elizabeth is not best pleased.
“I thought you were supposed to destroy it,” she says.
“I was, I am,” John says. “But it’s the king!”
“If it was just the king,” Elizabeth says, “I wouldn’t mind so much. We could prop him up in a corner under a blanket. But there’s the horse, John, it’s enormous.”
John reaches up to pat it on the flank. “A Horsse in Brasse bigger then a greate Horsse by a foot,” he says, quoting the commissioning document, “and the figure of his Maj King Charles proportionable full six foot, which the afore saide Hubert le sueur is to performe with all the skill and Workmanship as leith in his powoer. Who am I to destroy the best work of Hubert le Sueur? Who am I to destory the image of the king, for that matter?”
“You’re someone who’s been paid,” Elizabeth says. “And we shouldn’t even call him the king any more. You’ve been given money to destroy a statue of someone who’s been executed, John, which is what’s going to happen to you if anyone finds this here. Look, I’m not going to say anything about the hole in the ceiling, all right? But the statue has to go.”
“John,” Elizabeth says. “Love. It’s beautiful, but you know you can’t keep it. Parliament’s bound to want proof that you destroyed it.”
“I’ll show them the melted-down candlesticks,” he says, “and the old bugle.”
Elizabeth looks at him, and then at the statue.
“And nobody ever comes in here but us,” he adds. His eyes are so wide and hopeful. And the horse does have a certain grace to it.
“I could paint it,” he says. “Yellow, even. You like yellow. It’d be cheerful.”
“I don’t want a statue of a dead king watching us in bed,” she says. “Even a cheerful yellow dead king.”
“Then I’ll blindfold him. He’s not even facing the bed anyway, he’s facing out toward the window.” He’s talking fast.
She tries to imagine it yellow. The tail’s quite handy, at least, she could hang her spare cap there easily enough.
“Elizabeth,” John says.
“You’d have to cover over the, you know,” she says, and nods at the horse’s penis, which is impressively in proportion to the rest of the statue. “I’m not having my dinner under that.”
“Of course,” John says, and smiles.