The Spy Who Loved Monty
After he cleaned up from painting, Percival pulled on his brown patent leather shoes, and set out a tan waistcoat and brown herringbone suit. He’d realized once Agnes left that this would be as good a time as any to meet his old acquaintance Monty again.
"Shall I call for your driver, sir?" a mouse asked, dressed in a butler’s outfit.
Percival shook his head. "No, Reggie. I’m determined to walk over there."
Reginald Hanover had been Percival’s manservant for ten years now, and had been out doing the week’s shopping for his master when Agnes had arrived. He found that Percival was still a mystery after all this time. "Sir, you hardly ever go out anymore! Is this Monty fellow so important, then?" Reginald asked, his traditional British accent showing through.
Percival finished dressing with Reginald’s help. "That time in my life is still unresolved. I’d like a good ending to it, with Monty and Agnes getting together. A good ending is like a good painting-pleasing to the eye and it pays for itself."
Reginald opened the door to the dumbwaiter as the now-austere-looking Percival put on a tan bowler hat. "May I accompany you at least, sir? I know how you hate the crowds, and maybe.." Percival shot a glance at his butler. "Reggie, I know you’ve been with me a long time. I was and am grateful to you. You helped me get past Maggie’s death and get on with my life. You’re as good a friend as I could ask for. But I must do this myself, alone."
Reginald nodded, and opened the door. "Safe trip, sir."
Percival didn’t want to admit it, but he was nervous. He almost considered going back and letting Reginald drive him. He didn’t like to flaunt his wealth though, even if his paintings were the most sought-after on three continents. Percival studied the faces on the street, half-wondering if they would recognize him and ask him for an autograph. He was half-relieved and at the same time a little disappointed when no one spoke to him.
"I suppose I have been shut in for too long," Percival muttered under his breath. "I need to get out more and observe what the world is like now." Percival made the silent promise to himself and decided that Ranger Headquarters would be the first test for him.
It was no problem finding the park, but it took him a good ten minutes to work up his courage to ask one of the young park squirrels where the Rangers’ tree was. The teenager came over—a squirrel—and Percival was surprised at how courteous he was. "We don’t get many strangers with foreign accents ‘round here. Only that Rescue Ranger, you, and some other fella who sounded sorta like you," the squirrel said.
"Someone else? Did he have a British accent like mine?" Percival asked.
The squirrel thought a moment. "Nah, sorta gruff sounding. He mixed up his words, too. Something like, ‘I am for the Rangers’ tree looking’."
A frown appeared on Percival’s face. "Thank you, sir. And whom do I have the honor of thanking?"
"The name’s Roybrush. Rob Roybrush. See you around!" the squirrel said, running off toward the far side of the park.
Monty hadn’t come out all afternoon, and Gadget knew the sleeping draught should be wearing off. She tapped lightly on the door.
"It’s open, luv," Monty said. Gadget came in. "Did you sleep okay, Monty?" Monty slumped off his hammock and stretched and half-heartedly replied, "Slept like a baby, Gadget." Gadget saw the bags under his eyes and knew the truth. "Uh huh. Look Monty, I know today’s been a bad time for you, but you can’t stay in your room forever. She’s going to come back sometime."
Monty looked like a mouse facing his last meal. "I know. I should’a faced her like a brave fellow, but I ran away again. There’s painful issues here that need to be taken care of, but I just…I just can’t do it!" Gadget softened a bit. "Monty, I know you think you’ve done something terrible but she was still wanting to see you! I think she really cares about you."
Monty gently hugged Gadget. "Gadget, there’s some things too terrible to forgive. Some things we jus’ have to carry the burden for alone. It’s too much to ask." Gadget wiped away a tear from Monty’s face. "There’s got to be more to it, Monty. I’m sure of it."
A knock came at the main door. Gadget left immediately while Monty changed and headed to the kitchen to make himself a bite to eat. The last thing he wanted to do now was talk to anyone. "Agnes luv, I’m sorry fer everythin’."
Dale answered the door and saw a dapper mouse standing outside. "Uh, hi there! We’re the Rescue Rangers, how can we help you? Is something missing? A person in danger? The world about to be destroyed? No case too big, no case too small! That’s our motto."
Percival took off his hat. "Nothing so dramatic, my friend. My card. I’ve come to see Monty." Percival handed him a gold-gilded namecard. Dale read the card, and looked back at Percival with a slightly respectful awe. "Gosh, a card! You must be important!" Dale rushed off. He returned with a reluctant Monty moments later, then Dale went to find Chip and Zipper.
Monty could hardly believe his eyes. "Crikey! Percival mate! Old friends are poppin’ out o’ the woodwork today. What brings you here, pally?" Percival offered his hand, and Monty shook it. "Well, I had a visit from an old friend as well--Agnes in fact. She stirred me to appear from my exile and come out into the real world. However are you, old bean?"
At the mention of Agnes’ name Monty’s expression turned sad. "Not doin’ too well, old friend. I had to tell her that Ramrod’s death was all my fault, that I killed the one she was gonna marry."
Ramrod had walked halfway to the couch when at those words he suddenly stopped and turned quickly toward Monty. "Then...she didn’t tell you? She’s not here?!" Monty saw the alarm in his eyes and took on a measure of it. "Tell me what? She left here to see you, mate."
Percival ran up to Monty, a terrible idea forming in his mind. He grabbed Monty’s arm. "When I told her about Ramrod, she lit out like a ruddy lightning bolt! She was coming straight here, I know it! Something must have happened to her!"
Agnes, in trouble? Monty forgot any notion of self-pity. "Something happened to her! How? Who would do anything to her?" Gadget had stood there quietly during the exchange, but she knew Percival had more to tell. "Golly, what did you tell her about Ramrod?"
Percival needed help getting to the couch, so strong were his emotions. "Monty, what do you remember of the night when you and Ramrod had the fight?" Monty recounted the terrible events that had haunted his dreams. "It’s all my fault that he’s dead."
Percival looked him square in the eye. "He’s not dead."
Monty was too stunned to respond. Gadget put her hands to her face. "Golly and a half!"
Percival began to recover. "As I told Agnes, I got a report on Ramrod from the home office at Whitehall. From N himself! Ramrod had been captured by the R.O.D.E.N.T.S. after escaping the bombing. You only thought he’d been killed! That’s when Agnes tore out of my house like lightning."
Monty was downtrodden. "She’s gone to look fer him, fer her lost love. It’s all my fault that he got caught by the enemy and that he and Agnes were apart!" Percival grabbed Monty by the jacket collars and shook him. "Monty, she never loved him! She never did! I overheard everything that night between the two of you and thought about breaking it up. I wished I had....I wished I had! It would have saved both of you years of suffering. But she doesn’t love Ramrod and she never did!"
Monty had never fainted in his life, but he almost did now. "Then… that lyin’ backstabbin’ no good!...when I get through with him he’ll wish he had died in that fire! Where’s Agnes? I gotta find her!"
Chip and Dale had come in the room with Zipper and shared Monty’s feelings, especially Dale. They came over to control the now-violent Monty. "Monty, calm down! We’ll find her!" Chip said.
Percival opened the door. "I’m not sure what’s become of her, but I know a good place to start." Percival pulled out Agnes’ business card she’d left with him. "Let’s go talk to her editor, Jeff Hill."
Dale was as agitated as Monty was angry. "Yeah, we gotta find my Aunt Agnes!" In a remarkable display of self-control, Monty reigned in his anger. "Chip, I’m trustin’ ya to take charge here. I’m in no frame o’ mind to think right, right about now."
Chip took the card from Percival. "Okay, let’s go check it out. Are you with us, Percival?" Percival saluted. "For Agnes, I’ll go to the ends of the earth."
In a few minutes the Rangers and Percival were in the air. The trip to New York couldn’t go too quickly for Monty, and Gadget found that she was as concerned about Monty’s anger as she had been about his self-punishment. Soon they set down and got directions to the International Mouse-O-Graphic. Miranda’s face paled a bit when she saw Monty’s expression.
"May...may I help you?" Miranda asked. Monty leaned forward till he was almost nose to nose with her. "We’re the Rescue Rangers and we’re here to see yer boss!"
Miranda was flustered, but managed to speak "I...I’m sorry, but you’ll have to wait. He’s in a meeting right now."
Chip knew what was coming next. "Monty, wait!" Too late. Monty moved past her and threw open the door to Jeff Hill’s office. Seven heads turned to see a wild-looking Australian mouse. "All right, everyone out! The meetin’s over and I just made an emergency appointment with Mr. Hill! You can leave by the door or the window—now get out all o’ ya!"
Mice and squirrels ran out of the room, leaving the Rangers and Jeff alone. The editor was put-out to say the least. "Who do you think you are? Miranda, call security and...." Percival was amused at the whole thing, and strode in casually. "That won’t be necessary, Jeff. We’re here about Agnes. She’s disappeared." Jeff still had his paw on the phone.
"And why should I believe that?" Jeff barked.
"Because I’m Percival Alistair Montgomery, and I’ll be dashed if I’ll lie about a friend like Agnes!" Percival said. Jeff dropped the phone. "Montgomery? Then there is some trouble! Wait, aren’t you that other person I told her to go see? Mortimer Jack or something?"
Monty was still in a foul mood. "That’s Monterey Jack. Monterey! Agnes is gone missin’ and we gotta find her!" Jeff scowled in thought. "You’re the only two I told her to go see. If she’s not with either of you, then maybe she went back to her hotel."
Miranda anticipated her boss’ words and had the record pulled up. "She’s staying at the Walmouse Astoria, room 518."
Monty reached out and shook Jeff’s hand. "That’s mighty obliging o’ ya’, thanks." Monty quickly turned and hurried out of the office. Jeff ran out behind him. "If you hear anything, let me know! Ace is a special friend!"
Percival shook Jeff’s hand as the group began to trail after Monty. "Right-o, Jeff! I think Monty won’t rest until he’s seen her!" Jeff walked out into the hall with Percival. "I think you’re right. Good to meet you, Percival." Jeff watched them go, and then went back in and grabbed the phone.
"Walmouse Astoria? Get me the manager...Greg? Jeff. There’s a group coming over to check on Agnes Oakmont’s room. Give them every cooperation, okay? Thanks, Greg. You’re a pal," Jeff said. He hung up the receiver and looked at the story posters on the wall. "What have you gotten yourself into now, Ace?"
Thanks to Jeff’s help, the manager was waiting at the desk when they arrived. "My name is Greg Casey. Can I help you?" the manager said. Monty was about to open his mouth when Chip jumped in front of him.
"Yes, we’re searching for Agnes Oakmont," Chip said. Dale jumped in front of both of them. "Yeah, I’m her nephew, Dale. We’re all really worried that something might have happened to her!" Greg grabbed the keys to room 518 and motioned for them to follow him. "Right this way, friends. Jeff called ahead and said you’d be coming. Has there been some kind of trouble?"
"We’re not sure. Hopefully she’s just in her room. We can’t seem to find her," Chip said. Greg showed them to an ornate elevator, where they met the concierge.
"Allen, have you seen Miss Oakmont return?" Greg asked. "No, sir. I’d have noticed her--hard not too, right?" Allen replied. Chip watched to make sure Monty wouldn’t jump the fellow, and thankfully he didn’t. Greg nodded his understanding. "She might have come up without you noticing, still. Ask the fifth floor staff while I show these people to her room."
"At once, sir," Allen replied.
They reached the fifth floor quickly, and just as quickly made their way to room 518. Greg knocked on the door—no answer. "Miss Oakmont? Are you there? Okay, hold on everyone..." Greg inserted the master key and they went in. Everything seemed to be in order.
Monty turned to Greg. "Look fella, if anyone complains that we’re here just tell ‘em we threatened ya’. Now we gotta look for clues." Chip put his hands on Monty to stop him. "Monty, you better let me do this. You’re still far too upset to deal with this! Just sit down and relax."
Monty sat on the bed, but he was anything but relaxed. Chip and the others pored over everything--her address book, briefcase, itinerary. Nothing seemed to provide a clue. Then they turned to a trunk in the corner
"Is that trunk Aunt Agnes’?" Chip asked. "Yes," Greg said. "It’s heavy too. Took three bellboys to haul it up. I don’t have a way to get you into that." Chip smiled confidently, and looked to his brilliant teammate. "Allow me," Gadget said as she removed a small device from her pocket and after a few moments the lock popped open.
"Nice work, Gadget," Chip said. Everyone gathered around as Chip opened the lid up full. The chest was full of bound collections of papers.
Chip picked up the first one. "Three Nights in Nairobi."
"How I Met Prince Ratkin of Russia," Gadget read.
Percival picked up another manuscript. "I’d wager this is a good one—The Nights of Paris."
Dale saw one and snatched it up immediately. "Wowie-zowie! A Collection of Tales From Bianca Râboga. Hey, these are all stories!"
Monty looked over the mass of papers. "Crikey, I guess she’s a bit more prolific than I thought. I wonder if she wrote about me?" A thought occurred to Percival and he began searching through the collections. "Here it is!" Percival held up a manuscript and brought it to the bed. "Look at the title—The Rose and the Brie—that’s got to be about her experiences. Maybe this will help."
Monty had the impulse to tear the book away and read it himself, but he allowed Percival the reading honors. Percival pulled out a pince-nez and began reading.