Page:BulldogDrummondSapper.djvu/33

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29
HE TAKES TEA AT THE CARLTON

He finished the last piece of bacon and pushed away his plate. "Amongst all that mass of paper there must surely be one from a lovely maiden, James, at whose disposal I can place my rusty sword. Incidentally, what has become of the damned thing?"

"It's in the lumber-room, sir—tied up with the old humbrella and the niblick you don't like."

"Great heavens! Is it?" Drummond helped himself to marmalade. "And to think that I once pictured myself skewering Huns with it. Do you think anybody would be mug enough to buy it, James?"

But that worthy was engrossed in a letter he had just opened, and apparently failed to hear the question. A perplexed look was spreading over his face, and suddenly he sucked his teeth loudly. It was a sure sign that James was excited, and though Drummond had almost cured him of this distressing habit, he occasionally forgot himself in moments of stress.

His master glanced up quickly, and removed the letter from his hands. "I'm surprised at you, James," he remarked severely. "A secretary should control itself. Don't forget that the perfect secretary is an it: an automatic machine—a thing incapable of feeling.…"

He read the letter through rapidly, and then, turning back to the beginning, he read it slowly through again.

"My dear Box X10,—I don't know whether your advertisement was a joke: I suppose it must