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|Round The Red Lamp||Arthur Conan Doyle|
A Question Of Diplomacy.
|Page 4 of 10||
"Thank Goodness for that! "
"We adjourned all other business until we should have you with us next week. The question of a dissolution begins to press. The reports from the provinces are excellent."
The Foreign Minister moved impatiently and groaned.
"We must really straighten up our foreign business a little," said he. "I must get Novikoff's Note answered. It is clever, but the fallacies are obvious. I wish, too, we could clear up the Afghan frontier. This illness is most exasperating. There is so much to be done, but my brain is clouded. Sometimes I think it is the gout, and sometimes I put it down to the colchicum."
"What will our medical autocrat say?" laughed the Prime Minister. "You are so irreverent, Charles. With a bishop one may feel at one's ease. They are not beyond the reach of argument. But a doctor with his stethoscope and thermometer is a thing apart. Your reading does not impinge upon him. He is serenely above you. And then, of course, he takes you at a disadvantage. With health and strength one might cope with him. Have you read Hahnemann? What are your views upon Hahnemann?"
The invalid knew his illustrious colleague too well to follow him down any of those by-paths of knowledge in which he delighted to wander. To his intensely shrewd and practical mind there was something repellent in the waste of energy involved in a discussion upon the Early Church or the twenty-seven principles of Mesmer. It was his custom to slip past such conversational openings with a quick step and an averted face.
"I have hardly glanced at his writings," said he. "By-the-way, I suppose that there was no special departmental news?"
"Ah! I had almost forgotten. Yes, it was one of the things which I had called to tell you. Sir Algernon Jones has resigned at Tangier. There is a vacancy there."
"It had better be filled at once. The longer delay the more applicants."
"Ah, patronage, patronage!" sighed the Prime Minister. "Every vacancy makes one doubtful friend and a dozen very positive enemies. Who so bitter as the disappointed place-seeker? But you are right, Charles. Better fill it at once, especially as there is some little trouble in Morocco. I understand that the Duke of Tavistock would like the place for his fourth son, Lord Arthur Sibthorpe. We are under some obligation to the Duke."
The Foreign Minister sat up eagerly.
"My dear friend," he said, "it is the very appointment which I should have suggested. Lord Arthur would be very much better in Tangier at present than in--in----"
"Cavendish Square?" hazarded his chief, with a little arch query of his eyebrows.
"Well, let us say London. He has manner and tact. He was at Constantinople in Norton's time."
"Then he talks Arabic?"
"A smattering. But his French is good."
"Speaking of Arabic, Charles, have you dipped into Averroes?"
"No, I have not. But the appointment would be an excellent one in every way. Would you have the great goodness to arrange the matter in my absence?"
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|Round The Red Lamp
Arthur Conan Doyle
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