11 July 2012

from Coot Club, chapter XVII, Port and Starboard Miss Their Ship (Arthur Ransome)

'A letter?' said Port, looking at the pile by her father's plate.  'But he's had lots.'

'Well, he's ta'en this yin to the telephone,' said Mrs McGinty, and then they heard their father's voice through the open door of the study.

'Never mind about keeping things hot, Mrs McGinty.  I'll have to be gone in a minute ... Hallo!  Hallo!  Hallo!  Is that Norwich Ten-sixty-six?  Norwich ... One-owe-double-six ... Hallo!  Yes.  I said so.  Engaged?  Can't be engaged.  Private exchange.  Please ring them again.  Give them another ring.  A long one.  Hallo!  Hallo!  Is that Norwich One-owe-double-six?  Oh.  Wrong number.  Ring off please ... Hallo!  Exchange?  Oh, please ring off.  Exchange? ... Hallo!  Hallo! ... Bring me a cup of coffee out here, somebody ... Hallo!  Exchange!  Gave me a wrong number.  No.  No.  Not one-double-six.  One-owe-double-six.  Thank you, Bessie.  Take care, Nell.  Don't make me take too big a mouthful.  I've got to be able to talk to these dunderheaded nincompoops.  Hallo!  Oh, is that you, Walters?  Thank goodness for that.  Nip round to the office and get me all the papers in that Bollington business.  Consultations on it this week.  Yes ... All in the folder.  And the deeds ... Yes, yes.  Bring the whole lot down to the station.  Coming in by car.  You'll get it garaged after I've gone.  I've got to catch the nine-one.  Right.  Good man.  Everything on the case ...'  He hung up the receiver, took another mouthful of buttered egg from Starboard, washed it down with a drink of coffee offered him by Port, and hurried back to the dining-room.

'What is it, A.P.?' asked Starboard.

Mr Farland looked at his watch and compared it with the clock on the mantelpiece, a clock won by the Flash at Wroxham Regatta the year before.

'Seven minutes for breakfast ... Yes, Mrs McGinty, if you will be so good.  The small suitcase.  Everything for a week ...'

'You aren't going away?' said Port.

'These things will happen,' said Mr Farland.  'I didn't expect this business to come on for another two months at least ...'

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