THE bell rang furiously and, when Miss Parker went to the tube, a furious voice called
out in a piercing North of Ireland accent:
"Send Farrington here!"
Miss Parker returned to her machine, saying to a man who was writing at a desk:
"Mr. Alleyne wants you upstairs."
The man muttered "Blast him!" under his breath and pushed back his chair to stand up.
When he stood up he was tall and of great bulk. He had a hanging face, dark wine-
coloured, with fair eyebrows and moustache: his eyes bulged forward slightly and the
whites of them were dirty. He lifted up the counter and, passing by the clients, went out
of the office with a heavy step.
He went heavily upstairs until he came to the second landing, where a door bore a
brass plate with the inscription Mr. Alleyne. Here he halted, puffing with labour and
vexation, and knocked. The shrill voice cried:
The man entered Mr. Alleyne's room. Simultaneously Mr. Alleyne, a little man wearing
gold-rimmed glasses on a cleanshaven face, shot his head up over a pile of documents.
The head itself was so pink and hairless it seemed like a large egg reposing on the
papers. Mr. Alleyne did not lose a moment:
"Farrington? What is the meaning of this? Why have I always to complain of you? May I
ask you why you haven't made a copy of that contract between Bodley and Kirwan? I
told you it must be ready by four o'clock."
"But Mr. Shelley said, sir----"
"Mr. Shelley said, sir .... Kindly attend to what I say and not to what Mr. Shelley says,
sir. You have always some excuse or another for shirking work. Let me tell you that if
the contract is not copied before this evening I'll lay the matter before Mr. Crosbie.... Do
you hear me now?"
"Do you hear me now?... Ay and another little matter! I might as well be talking to the
wall as talking to you. Understand once for all that you get a half an hour for your lunch