17. THE APPROACH OF THE LAW
By the time they reached the docks, the excitement and bustle had made the gin take a firm hold on Rosy and, uttering little squeaks of pleasure to herself, she staggered along by Adrian’s side, occasionally tripping over her own feet. Adrian was beyond caring. All he wanted was to get Rosy on board the ship, and it was with considerable relief that he saw that the Sploshport Queen had not left.
Shackling Rosy to a bollard, he rushed on deck and was lucky enough to find the Captain almost immediately.
“Aha,” said the Captain, backing away from him. “Have you come to inflict another assault upon my person?”
“No,” said Adrian. “It just want you to take me and my elephant back to the mainland.”
“You didn’t stay here very long,” said the Captain.
“No,” said Adrian. “There was not really any work for us to do.”
“Well, get on hoard,” said the Captain. “We’re due to leave any minute now.”
Adrian retrieved Rosy and led her up the wide gangway to the forrard deck where she had travelled before. Just at that moment the Chief Officer hailed him from the dockside. Telling Rosy to stand still, Adrian ran back to pay for his and Rosy’s fare. It was, it transpired, an unwise thing for him to do. Rosy had by now recovered from her panic on the revolving stage, and was feeling tired, a feeling that was aggravated by the amount of gin that she had consumed. She ambled slowly across the deck and stood looking over the rail, swaying gently, and uttering little musical squeaks to herself. Then she turned, intending to go back down the gangway in search of Adrian, but her gait was uncertain and she slipped and fell against the ship’s rail which, though of strong enough construction in its way, had not been designed to withstand the weight of several tons of elephant. It promptly gave way. Adrian, hurrying up the gangway, was just in time to see Rosy, her feet in the air, disappearing over the side of the Sploshport Queen. She hit the water with a report like a cannon and a great column of water rose some twenty feet into the air.
Now, Adrian knew from that hideous day when they had routed the Monkspepper Hunt that Rosy liked water, but a shallow river is one thing and five fathoms of sea water something very different. He ran to the gaping hole in the rails, tearing off his coat, quite prepared to dive in and save Rosy. It was not until later that he realised what extreme difficulty he would have had rescuing Rosy if she could not swim. He peered down at the dark waters and saw that Rosy had surfaced and with her trunk aloft was making steady progress toward the open sea. This was almost worse than her drowning.
“Come back!” yelled Adrian. “Rosy, come back!”
But Rosy continued to plough onwards towards the harbour entrance. There was nothing for it, thought Adrian bitterly, he would have to go to her rescue alter all. So, taking a deep breath, he jumped over the side of the Sploshport Queen. The oily water was unpleasantly cold. He rose spluttering to the surface and struck out in hot pursuit of Rosy. Eventually, by putting on a turn of speed that made him feel his lungs were bursting, he swam alongside.
“You fool,” he gasped at her. “You’re swimming the wrong way.”
Rosy was delighted to see him. She uttered a small gurgling squeak of recognition and wrapped her trunk affectionately around Adrian’s neck, thus successfully plunging him beneath the water. He uncurled her trunk and rose gasping and spluttering.
“You bloody elephant,” he gasped. He seized the edge of her ear and, feeling not unlike a very small tug in charge of a gigantic ocean liner, succeeded in turning her so that she aimed in the general direction of shore.
Some two or three minutes later they made landfall at a series of shallow steps that led up from the water to the dockside, and up these, with a certain amount of effort, they made their way. The docks had been comparatively deserted when they had arrived, but now a large crowd had assembled in the miraculous way that crowds do assemble when any accident happens. Included in the crowd was a very large and belligerent-looking policeman. As Adrian, still clinging to Rosy’s ear, staggered up to the dockside and started to wring the water out of his hair, the policeman approached him, his hands behind his back, his buttons glinting in the lamplight.
“Good evening, sir;” he said.
“Good evening,” said Adrian, wondering what was good about it.
“Would that be your elephant, sir?” said the constable, “or were you rescuing it, like, on behalf of somebody else?”
“No,” said Adrian, “it’s mine.”
“Ah,” said the constable.
He extracted a notebook from his pocket and turned the leaves slowly, licking his forefinger copiously as he turned each page.
“You wouldn’t, I suppose, by any chance, sir, be Mr. Adrian Rookwhistle, would you?” he enquired.
“That is my name,” said Adrian resignedly.
“Ah,” said the constable beaming at him paternally, “then perhaps you could spare the time, sir, just to step down to the station with me. One or two little matters that need to be sorted out. I understand that elephant of yours has been having quite an exciting career.”
“Look, officer,” said Adrian, “I can explain everything.”
“Don’t say a word,” barked a trenchant voice suddenly from the depths of the crowd.
Adrian looked round startled and saw that the advice had been offered to him by a short, circular little man like a dumpling. He was wearing a faded, dusty looking cut-away coat, a top hat that looked as though it bad been run over by a very heavy horse and cart, baggy trousers and an enormous pair of elastic-sided boots so ancient that the toes pointed skywards. Under his coat, spreading over his paunch, was a moleskin waistcoat. He had a great beak of a nose, as scarlet and as pitted as a strawberry, and fierce blue eyes under shaggy white snowdrifts of eyebrow. He was so short that he came within a hair’s breadth of being a dwarf and his corpulence made him appear shorter still, but he strutted up to the constable in such a belligerent manner that the minion of the law immediately took a step backwards and touched his helmet.
“Not one word,” said this little man, turning to Adrian and holding up an admonishing forefinger. So imposing was the little man’s demeanour that the crowd, which had been shuffling and laughing among itself, fell silent. The little man rearranged his top hat and sniffed prodigiously. He was obviously conscious of the fact that he had made this impact and was extracting every last exquisite moment from it.
Having rearranged his battered headgear to his satisfaction, he then inserted his fingers carefully into an ample pocket in his moleskin waistcoat and extracted from it a large and battered pewter snuff box. Rosy, under the impression that it was something edible, stretched out her trunk tentatively and sniffed.
“Desist,” said the little man coldly, fixing her with a malevolent stare, and to Adrian’s astonishment, Rosy curled up her trunk and looked as embarrassed as only an elephant can. It was obvious that she had fallen under the little man’s spell as well as the crowd. The little man opened the snuff box, whereupon it played a few tinkling bars of “God Save the Queen.” He extracted a pinch of snuff delicately and then, holding out his left hand, placed the snuff reverently on the inside of his wrist, He closed the snuff box with his right band and returned it to his pocket, then raised his wrist to his nose and sniffed deeply. The silence was complete. Everybody, including the constable, was watching him with rapt attention. He sniffed a couple of times and then, starting at the tips of his shoes and reverberating all the way up through his whole body, he sneezed enormously and voluptuously, uttering at the same time a sort of screeching yelp that made everybody, including Rosy, retreat several paces. He then produced an enormous silk handkerchief and blew his nose into it with a trumpeting worthy of a bull elephant. He stuffed the handkerchief back So his pocket and straightened his top hat which had become disarranged by the force of his sneeze.
“Inspector,” he said, raising his shaggy eyebrows and looking up at the constable, “you have just been privileged to witness a sight which many people would give ten years of their lives to have seen.”
“Yes, sir,” said the constable. “I am constable, actually, sir.”
“It matters not,” observed the little man, “how menial you are, it is a matter of appreciating great acts of heroism when you see them.”
“Yes, sir,” said the constable woodenly.
“It is the Bible,” said the little man, waving his arms oratorically, “that teaches us we have dominion over the fowls of the air and the beasts of the field.”
“If you say so, sir,” said the constable.
“I do say so,” said the little man. “And that includes elephants.” He threw his left arm round Adrian’s dripping shoulders and spread out his right hand with a gesture of one about to field a tennis ball.
“Friends,” he said trenchantly, “this brave young man, prompted by the sacred words of the Bible, unhesitatingly and without a thought for his own safety, cast himself into the roaring tumult of the waves to save a beast of the field.”
The fact that the harbour was oily calm in no way detracted from this dramatic statement.
“Is there a man among you,” continued the little man, addressing the crowd which consisted largely of women, “is there a man among you who would have performed such a deed of valour?”
“Excuse me, sir,” said the constable, “I know that what this young man did was very brave, but you see, him and his elephant is wanted.”
The little man swirled like a pouter pigeon and his eyes became as blue and as sharp as two periwinkles under ice.
“I,” he said, adjusting his top hat with care, “I am Sir Magnus Ramping Fumitory. You may, no doubt, during your long association with the courts, have come across my name.”
“Yes, sir,” said the constable dismally, touching his helmet once more, “I have heard about you.”
“Well, I demand to know,” said Sir Magnus, “whether you intend to arrest this young man, this hero of the deeps?”
“Well, yes, sir,” said the constable, “in a sort of way. I just want him and his elephant to come down to the station and help us with a bit of information. It’s pursuant to a complaint.”
Sir Magnus smiled a grim smile.
“What a masterly massacre of the tongue that Shakespeare spoke,” he said. “Still, Chief Constable, I realise you have your duty to do, however erroneous it may be, so I will allow you to apprehend this heroic young man and I will, indeed, endeavour to protect you from the wrath of the crowd. For it is patently obvious to me where their sympathies lie.”
The crowd, captivated but like most crowds not knowing what the whole thing was about, growled encouragingly. Sir Magnus beamed at them like a conductor beaming at an orchestra at the end of a particularly difficult passage of music, and then turned to Adrian.
“My boy,” he said, “I shall personally accompany you to the police stations and if they arrest you and charge you, if indeed they are so inhuman and so callous as to arrest you and charge you, I, Sir Magnus Ramping Fumitory, will defend you.”
“You are very kind,” said Adrian, who was now so bewildered that he was not sure whether he was under arrest or not.
“Well, if you will just come along with me,” said the constable. “If nothing else, we will be able to give you a hot cup of tea at the station.”
“Thank you,” said Adrian, who was frozen to the marrow and felt that it was even worth being arrested in order to have a hot drink.
“Don’t say a word,” said Sir Magnus, “until we get to the station and find out what their paltry charges are.”
So Adrian seized Rosy’s ear once more, and with Sir Magnus strutting pigeon-toed on one side, and the constable lumbering on the other, and the crowd shuffling and whispering following behind, they made their way to the police station.
When they arrived they induced Rosy, with a certain amount of difficulty and with the aid of a bribe of several loaves of bread, to stand in the station yard. Inside the dour red-brick police station, the station sergeant, with a rich, peony-coloured face and an impressive moustache, peered at Adrian like a good-natured walrus.
“Good evening, sir,” he said. “You’re name is Adrian Rookwhistle?”
“Yes,” said Adrian.
“And I wouldn’t admit anything more than your name,” hissed Sir Magnus.
“Well, sir,” said the sergeant, “we’ve several charges against you, so I must warn you that anything you say may be taken down and used in evidence at your trial.”
He paused and stared at Adrian portentously. “The charges are as follows. That you did on 20th April in the County of Brockelberry cause a public nuisance in the meadow, alongside the Monkspepper Road there situate by releasing a large wild animal, and furthermore that you allowed it to commit grievous bodily harm to Hubert Darcey, Master of the Monkspepper Hunt and that on the night of 5th June you did commit a public nuisance by allowing a large wild animal loose in a public place, to wit the Alhambra Theatre and allowed it to commit grievous bodily harm to Mr. Emanuel S. Clattercup, the theatre manager.” The sergeant paused, looked down at his notes and then looked up at Adrian and beamed affably.
“That seems to be all for the moment, sir,” he said.
“Ridiculous trumped-up charges,” said Sir Magnus, taking off his top hat and banging it on the sergeant’s desk. “Don’t worry, my dear chap, I will soon have you free of this noxious web which these bovine illiterates are endeavouring to weave around you and that noble creature of yours.”
“I am afraid, sir,” said the sergeant, unmoved by Sir Magnus’s oratory, “that I shall have to detain you in custody so that you can appear before the magistrates tomorrow morning.”
“Well, that’s all very well,” protested Adrian, “but what about Rosy?”
“Your elephant, sir?” enquired the sergeant “Umm, that does present a bit of a problem. You see our cells are somewhat on the small side.”
“Well, she’d be all right out in the yard,” said Adrian, “if she was given something to eat.”
“I will attend to that, sir,” said the sergeant. He picked up a clean piece of paper, licked his pencil and looked at Adrian interrogatively. “Now, what does she eat, sir?”
“Well,” said Adrian, “if you get half a sack of mangolds or turnips (but she prefers mangolds), a bale of hay, half a sack of apples, half a sack of carrots, half a sack of bread . . .”
The station sergeant’s face grew grim.
“You wouldn’t by any chance be gammoning me?”
“No, no,” said Adrian earnestly. “Really, she’s got a colossal appetite.”
“Well,” said the sergeant, “I’ll see what I can, do, sir. Now, I’d be glad if you would just turn out your pockets, sir, and check the contents with me. They’ll all be returned to you in due course.”
Adrian emptied his pockets and the station sergeant put all his possessions in a large brown envelope and locked it away in a cabinet.
“Now, sir,” he said, sounding exactly like the hall porter at a sumptuous hotel, “if you’ll just come this way, I’ll show you your accommodation.”
Sir Magnus stretched out his hand to Adrian.
“Don’t worry, my boy,” he said. “I shall be here first thing in the morning to make sure that you get fair play. Just look upon this as an unpleasant—but rapidly passing—dream.”
“It’s beginning to feel like it,” said Adrian gloomily.
He followed the sergeant down a brick-lined passage way until they came to the doorways of several tiny cells, most of which, judging by the noises and the all-pervading smell of alcohol, contained people whom Rosy would have been honoured to number among her friends. The sergeant unlocked one of the cell doors and ushered Adrian into a tiny whitewashed room with a wooden bunk, a small chest of drawers and, perched on top of it, rather incongruously, a large china bowl and ewer decorated in pink and blue flowers.
“Here we are, sir,” said the sergeant. “Now you get a good night’s rest and we’ll see you in the morning.”
He closed the door and the bolt clicked into place. Slowly Adrian peeled off his sodden clothes, climbed into the hard, narrow bed and lay there staring at the ceiling. He was convinced that he was going to get at least a year’s penal servitude for his crimes, but strangely enough this didn’t worry him. What did worry him was what was going to happen to Rosy, coupled with the fact that if he was imprisoned for a year, it would be a year before he would see Samantha again. By which time, of course, she might have moved and he would not be able to trace her. Or, worse still, might have married some uncouth ruffian who would not appreciate her finer points.
Alone in his little cell, Adrian could visualise it all so clearly that he broke out in a cold sweat. Rosy being condemned to death by the magistrates, the clatter of boots as the army platoon detailed to carry out the sentence marched into the prison yard, the crackle of guns, the great thud as Rosy’s body hit the cobbles, bleeding from a dozen wounds, and meanwhile Samantha irretrievably married to a great, coarse, hairy plough-boy who would beat her regularly every Saturday night so that, if and when Adrian ever discovered her again, she would be a gaunt shadow of her former self, and even the gold flecks in her eyes would have ceased to glitter. With Adrian’s fertile imagination at work, it was not altogether surprising that he got little sleep that night.
In the morning a large constable made his appearance carrying a mug of tea and a hunk of black bread, and Adrian discovered that not only was he hungry, but his throat was so parched he could only talk in a croaking whisper.
“How’s Rosy?” he asked the constable.
“Don’t you go fretting about her, sir,” said the constable comfortably. “She can look after herself, that elephant can. The station sergeant’s nearly gone mad keeping up with her appetite. It’s a wonderful beast, sir.”
“In some ways I suppose she is,” said Adrian.
“You seem to have got up to some tricks with her,” said the constable.
“Yes,” said Adrian shortly, not wishing to have to tell his story all over again. “What time do we go to the magistrates’ court?”
“Ten o’clock, sir,” said the constable.
“I wonder,” said Adrian, “if you could possibly lend me a razor? Mine got left behind in the rush.”
“Surely, sir,” said the constable, and went out, locking the door behind him. Presently he reappeared with a large razor, and stayed there watching while Adrian washed and shaved, then he retrieved the razor and disappeared.
Now, thought Adrian, I must work out my defence. He paced feverishly up and down the cell, occasionally pausing to gesture wildly at the walls as he endeavoured to persuade an implacable imaginary judge that he and Rosy were innocent of any crime whatsoever. At the end of it, however, he was bound to admit that his defence, if it could be called that, was slender in the extreme. It was obvious that he must pin his faith on Sir Magnus. He was evidently well-known to the police, judging by the looks of ill-concealed loathing that they gave him, presumably because of his successes in court. But in this case, Adrian felt even the most brilliant of lawyers would be hard-pressed to prove his innocence.
At ten o’clock the constable reappeared jangling a rather ominous pair of handcuffs.
“We’re off now, sir,” he said cheerfully. “It’s only a step down the road, but if you don’t mind, sir, it’s just a formality, sir. If you’ll just slip these on.”
Adrian allowed him to fasten the handcuff to his left wrist and then the constable attached the other end to his own wrist.
“There we are,” he said paternally, “snug as a bug in a rug.”
“Does Rosy have to come too?” enquired Adrian.
“No, sir,” said the constable. “That’s not necessary. She’s more in the nature of an exhibit, as you might say. We won’t want ’er until your trial.”
In the charge room Sir Magnus awaited them. In the daylight his coat and hat and his extraordinary shoes looked even more decrepit than they had done the previous night and it was obvious that several moths who had had the courage to get on the wrong side of Sir Magnus had wrought havoc with various parts of his moleskin waistcoat.
“My dear Adrian” he said, waving his walking-stick amicably, “I trust you had a good night’s rest, although I fear in these places the accommodation is a little limited.”
“Oh, it was comfortable enough,” said Adrian, “but I didn’t get much sleep.”
Sir Magnus cast him a ferocious look from under his white eyebrows.
“Don’t you trust me?” he asked fiercely.
“Why, yes, of course,” said Adrian startled.
“Well, then, stop getting yourself into a turmoil,” said Sir Magnus. He picked up his top hat and set it at a jaunty angle on his head with a loving pat.
“Come,” he said, waving his cane, “let us take the air.” He led the way out of the police station as though he were leading a parade and the constable and Adrian, clanking musically, followed behind. For the first time Adrian began to realise what Rosy must have felt like when she was shackled. As people in the streets turned to stare, Adrian felt himself getting redder and redder and shrivelling up inside. It was an immense relief when they finally turned into a doorway to the magistrates’ court.
For some obscure reason, Adrian had imagined that he would be tried by the magistrates’ court, condemned, and carried out from there loaded down with chains, but to his astonishment justice did not appear to work in this swift and exemplary fashion. The magistrate, who looked, Adrian thought, an exceedingly good example of the criminal type, listened patiently while the constable who had arrested Adrian began his evidence. The constable, who was basso profundo in the police choir, read from his notebook slowly and ponderously, annunciating each word with relish.
“Police Constable Emanuel Dray, 124, Island of Scallop Constabulary. Sir, on the evening of the 5th June I was proceeding along the dockside at Scallop when my attention was drawn to a crowd that had gathered and was staring into the harbour and appeared greatly excited. Proceeding to the edge of the docks, I perceived the accused disporting himself in the waters with a large and unidentified object, which later, on closer inspection, proved to be an elephant.
“Having previously been informed that a man in possession of an elephant was wanted for questioning in connection with certain disturbances which had taken place in the County of Brockelberry I came to the conclusion that this must be the gentleman in question. When he and the elephant landed on the docks, I approached him and asked if the elephant was his.”
At this point the magistrate raised his eyebrows and cleared his throat with a dry rustle like a small lizzard wriggling between two tightly wedged stones.
“Constable,” he said, “why did you ask him whether it was his elephant? I would have thought that if you find somebody disporting themselves in the harbour with an elephant it is fairly obvious that the elephant is his?”
The constable, slightly thrown off course by this interruption, shuffled his feet.
“Well, sir,” he said reddening, “I thought as how it might be somebody else’s elephant what he was looking after.”
The magistrate gave a tiny sigh.
“An extremely unlikely hypothesis,” he said. “Do continue.”
It took Constable Dray a moment or so with the aid of a stubby finger to find his place in his notes, and then he cleared his throat, threw back his head like a choirboy and proceeded.
“The accused said, ‘It is mine’. I then asked him if his name was Adrian Rookwhistle, to which he replied, ‘That is my name’. I then asked him if he would step down to the station with me to help us in our enquiries, to which he replied, ‘Look officer, I can explain everything’.”
Here Constable Dray paused and beamed at the magistrate. This was as far as he was concerned, a clear confession of guilt.
“Well?” said the magistrate coldly.
“Well, sir,” said Constable Dray, his moment of glory shattered, “I then took him down to the station where he was cautioned and later charged.”
“I see,” said the magistrate. “Thank you, Constable.” Constable Dray shuffled out of the witness box with the ponderous care of a Shire horse and the magistrate flipped through some papers and then looked up.
The police inspector rose to his feet.
“I ask, sir,” he said, “that the prisoner be remanded in custody to appear before the magistrates in a week’s time.”
The magistrate looked enquiringly at Sir Magnus Ramping Fumitory who, throughout the procedure, had been sitting there apparently sound asleep. Sir Magnus rose to his feet.
“Sir,” he said, fishing out his snuff box and tapping it gently with his forefinger. “Sir, my client has been charged by my friends the police” (a faint growl from the inspector was quelled by a look from the magistrate) “with these paltry trumped-up charges.”
Sir Magnus threw out his arms.
“Sir Magnus,” interrupted the magistrate, “we are all not only conscious, but envious, of your powers of oratory. However, I would like to point out to you that at this precise moment your client is not on trial.”
“Sir,” said Sir Magnus, “this noble young stripling who, as you kindly pointed out, is not on trial, against whom, as yet, no proof of guilt has been offered, is, should my friends the police have their way, to be incarcerated, cut off from friends and family, cut off from the gay hurlyburly of life, cut off indeed from that magnificent dumb creature who, in times of stress, is his only consolation, cut off I might say . . .”
“Sir Magnus,” said the magistrate sharply, “I would be grateful if you would get to the point. What is it you wish?”
“Bail, sir,” said Sir Magnus profoundly. He made a grandiloquent gesture which inadvertently scattered half an ounce of snuff over the table in front of him.
“My client, sir,” he said, “is not a vagrant, a vagabond, a gypsy, a tramp, nor is he a mountebank . . .”
The magistrate was by now beginning to lose his temper.
“Sir Magnus,” he said, “we are not gathered here to construct a dictionary of synonyms.”
“In short,” continued Sir Magnus, not in any way put out, “I would say that my client is a man of substance, perfectly able—indeed I would say willing—to stand bail, so that, for however brief a period, he may return to the outside world.”
“Spare us,” said the magistrate acidly. “I have grasped your point.”
He sat back and surveyed Adrian briefly with a cold stare.
“It is not customary in cases like this for us to go against the recommendation of the police. However, this is a case which appears to have many unusual features, so I will grant your client bail in his own recognisance in the sum of fifty pounds.”
“I am deeply grateful to you, sir,” said Sir Magnus, bowing low. And then, opening his snuff box with great care, he brushed all the snuff on the table back into the box, to the accompaniment of “God Save the Queen.” Adrian by now was completely confused and was, indeed, under the firm impression that by some miracle he was being discharged, having suffered no greater penalty than the loss of fifty pounds. The Clerk of the Court fixed him with a puppeteer’s eye.
“Stand up, Rookwhistle,” he said.
Adrian rose somewhat shakily to his feet.
“Adrian Rookwhistle, you are bound in the sum of fifty pounds, in your own recognisance, to appear before the magistrates in this court on Tuesday next. Do you understand?” the magistrate said.
“Yes, sir,” Adrian replied.
Adrian left the court in a daze of delight. He was free, Rosy was free, and with a bit of luck he would be seeing Samantha very shortly. After all the ghastly experiences to which he had been subjected, this was a moment of triumph to be savoured to the full. As they reached the pavement, he seized Sir Magnus Ramping Fumitory’s hand and pumped it up and down.
“My dear Sir Magnus,” he said, “how can I thank you? To think that you, with your brilliant mind, should have come to my rescue in this fashion, and saved me and Rosy from what would assuredly have been a terrible fate. I Cannot thank you enough.”
Sir Magnus, with the long-suffering air of one extracting himself from the exuberant gambols of a puppy, disengaged his hand from Adrian’s and stepped back.
“What?” he said, glowering from under his eyebrows, “are you talking about?”
“Why, the verdict,” said Adrian.
“What verdict?” enquired Sir Magnus.
“But . . . they let me loose,” said Adrian. “They only fined me fifty pounds.”
Sir Magnus closed his eyes as though in pain and took a short walk up and down the pavement. Then he came up to Adrian and glowered into his face, tapping him on the chest with his snuff box.
“Endeavour,” he said bitingly, “not to be as cretinous as the forces of law and other. I have merely got you out on bail. In a week’s time you will have to appear before the magistrates and they will send you to the Assizes, and it’s at the Assizes that you will stand or fall.”
“Oh,” said Adrian dismally, “I didn’t realise.”
His bright cloud of happiness had suddenly evaporated and he was back with his nightmares of Rosy being shot at dawn and Samantha making an unsuitable alliance.
“Well,” he said dolefully, “what do I do now?”
“Do!” said Sir Magnus reddening and starting to twitch like an indignant turkey. “You will fetch Rosy and come to a tiny place I have not far from here, and there, if you show a little spirit, we will prepare your defence.”
“Do you know,” said Adrian helplessly, “I don’t think I understand quite how the law functions.”
“You can’t expect to,” said Sir Magnus crisply. “After all, we who administer it don’t understand how it functions, so one can hardly hope you to.”
“It is rather like getting on a train,” said Adrian, “without knowing how to drive it.”
Sir Magnus took a pinch of snuff and sniffed violently. “I shouldn’t worry,” he said. “On a train journey the vital thing is to get out at the right station.”