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.I live over the shop, so to speak.’They had arrived at a smaller chamber set back from the main room, furnished as sumptuously but on a more domestic scale.Tragan walked to the wall and pressed a concealed button.‘We must find you somewhere to sleep, he said.And I’ll order some food.’It looked as if he was going to obey Freeth, then.For the moment at any rate, she was to be treated as a guest, rather than as a captive or as a.Again Sarah’s mind refused to go on.A voice responded to his summons, a voice which filled the echoing spaces of the hall.‘Is that you, Vice-Chairman?’‘Who else could it be, Odun?’ snapped Tragan, the warts on his face riding the ripples.‘I told Captain Rudley you were still away.’‘Rudley? What did he want?’‘He’s here now.He – ’The worried voice was interrupted by the strong confident tones of a younger man.‘Tragan? I’m coming in.’‘You can’t go in there! Come back!’But Captain Rudley ignored the feeble protest.A door in the wall which Sarah had not even noticed, disguised as it was by the ornate carvings, slid open and a tall young man dressed in a dark green uniform strode into the room followed by a small agitated man uttering feeble protests.‘This is insufferable!’ said Tragan, his face flushing deeper shade of purple.‘You’ve really gone too far this time, Rudley.’‘Is this Sarah Jane Smith?’‘How did you know that?’Rudley turned to Sarah.‘Are you all right?’‘Just about,’ answered Sarah.It looked as if the cavalry had arrived, even if he hadn’t got a horse!‘Good,’ said Rudley.‘If you would like to come with me– ’‘The Presidential Guard has no jurisdiction in this sector,’ Tragan said.‘I’d be within my rights to have you kicked out.Literally.’‘I shouldn’t advise you to try,’ said Rudley.‘I’m here on the direct orders of the President himself.Ready, Miss Smith?’‘I certainly am!’Tragan interposed himself between them.‘Miss Smith stays here.’The Captain didn’t even raise his voice.‘Get out of the way,’ he said.Tragan’s face was shaking and shivering as if agitated by a sudden squall of wind.He spoke as quietly as Rudley, but the intensity of his anger was shaking his voice as well as his face.‘You are of very little account in this society, Captain Rudley.If you take my advice you’ll – oof!’Sarah’s cry of surprise was followed by a giggle of delight as Tragan fell to the floor, doubled up by a powerful short-arm jab from the Captain.‘Come on,’ he said, leading the way to the door, where Odun was standing, pressed back against the wall.‘Don’t worry, I didn’t hit him very hard.He’s only winded.’‘That’s a pity,’ said Sarah.Tragan struggled to get his voice.‘You, you young puppy! I’ll make you sorry for that! I’ll.I’ll.’But they had gone; and what could have been a useful warning to Captain Rudley of a very real threat was heard only by the cowering servant.Chapter FifteenHaving sent Captain Waldo Rudley on his way, the President resumed the universally observed ritual of a host and offered his guests refreshment – a deliciously refreshing drink with a taste not unlike the best mango juice – and politely asked them if they had had a good journey, for all the world as if they had arrived on the Intercity Pullman from King’s Cross.The Brigadier was a little taken aback when the Doctor talked of their unfortunate landing in the middle of a battle.Apart from the possibility of the story being construed as a criticism of one of the planets in the Parakon Federation, his own instinct, sharpened by years of intelligence operations, was to reveal as little information as possible.‘A war? On Blestinu? Surely not,’ the President said in a worried, thin voice.‘It looked uncommonly like a war to me,’ replied the Doctor.‘That beautiful green world.The very first I visited on behalf of the Corporation, oh, a lifetime ago.They have been one of the most successful members of our Federation ever since.You were unlucky.A little local quarrel, no more.’ He was squeezing the palm of his right hand with his left, as if to soothe a pain.His hands were shaking.‘You must be right, Your Excellency,’ said the Brigadier with a reproving look at the Doctor.‘Please,’ replied the President.‘We don’t go to such extremes of ceremony.“President” will do very well [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]