Peter Ruff and the Double Four
I.6. The Little Lady From Servia
Westward sped the little electric brougham, driven without regard to police
regulations or any rule of the road: silent and swift, wholly regardless of other
vehicles - as though, indeed, its occupants were assuming to themselves the
rights of Royalty. Inside, Peter Ruff, a little breathless, was leaning forward, tying
his white cravat with the aid of the little polished mirror set in the middle of the
dark green cushions. At his right hand was Lady Mary, watching his proceedings
with an air of agonised impatience.
"Let me tell you - " she begged.
"Kindly wait till I have tied this and put my studs in," Peter Ruff interrupted. "It is
impossible for me to arrive at a ball in this condition, and I cannot give my whole
attention to more than one thing at a time."
"We shall be there in five minutes!" she exclaimed. "What is the good, unless you
understand, of your coming at all?"
Peter Ruff surveyed his tie critically. Fortunately, it pleased him. He began to
press the studs into their places with firm fingers. Around them surged the traffic
of Piccadilly; in front, the gleaming arc of lights around Hyde Park Corner. They
had several narrow escapes. Once the brougham swayed dangerously as they
cut in on the wrong side of an island lamp-post. A policeman shouted after them,
another held up his hand - the driver of the brougham took no notice.
"I am ready," Peter Ruff said, quietly.
"My younger brother - Maurice," she began, breathlessly - you've never met him,
I know, but you've heard me speak of him. He is private secretary to Sir James
Wentley - "
"Minister for Foreign Affairs?" Ruff asked, swiftly.