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H.H. Munro (SAKI) – SELECTED STORIESThe Blind Spot –> Table of contentsA Defensive DiamondA Holiday TaskA Matter of SentimentDown PensDuskEsme Hermann The IrascibleHyacinthTobermoryThe Storyteller————————-A Defensive DiamondTreddleford sat in an easeful arm-chair in front of a slumberous fire, with a volume of verse in his hand and the comfortable consciousness that outside the club windows the rain was dripping and pattering with persistent purpose. A chill, wet October afternoon was merging into a bleak, wet October evening, and the club smoking-room seemed warmer and cosier by contrast. It was an afternoon on which to be wafted away from one’s climatic surroundings, and “The Golden journey to Samarkand” promised to bear Treddleford well and bravely into other lands and under other skies. He had already migrated from London the rain-swept to Bagdad the Beautiful, and stood by the Sun Gate “in the olden time” when an icy breath of imminent annoyance seemed to creep between the book and himself. Amblecope, the man with the restless, prominent eyes and the mouth ready mobilised for conversational openings, had planted himself in a neighbouring arm-chair. For a twelvemonth and some odd weeks Treddleford had skilfully avoided making the acquaintance of his voluble fellow-clubman; he had marvellously escaped from the infliction of his relentless record of tedious personal achievements, or alleged achievements, on golf links, turf, and gaming table, by flood and field and covert-side. Now his season of immunity was coming to an end. There was no escape; in another moment he would be numbered among those who knew Amblecope to speak to – or rather, to suffer being spoken to. The intruder was armed with a copy of Country Life, not for purposes of reading, but as an aid to conversational ice-breaking. “Rather a good portrait of Throstlewing,” he remarked explosively, turning his large challenging eyes on Treddleford; “somehow it reminds me very much of Yellowstep, who was supposed to be such a good thing for the Grand Prix in 1903. Curious race that was; I suppose I’ve seen every race for the Grand Prix for the last – ” “Be kind enough never to mention the Grand Prix in my hearing,” said Treddleford desperately; “it awakens acutely distressing memories. I can’t explain why without going into a long and complicated story.” “Oh, certainly, certainly,” said Amblecope hastily; long and complicated stories that were not told by himself were abominable in his eyes. He turned the pages of Country Life and became spuriously interested in the picture of a Mongolian pheasant.
H.H. Munro (SAKI)
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