THERE were three of us—Cranmer, Bannerman and I— the local field strength of the diminutive PANJANDRUM OIL COMPANY; a miniature Dad's Army, a thin red line protecting the Company's flanks from the attacks of the insidious majors in a continuing David and Goliath confrontation, and occasionally fixing bayonets for a charge into the enemy positions. “They don't like it up 'em, you know!” is Bannerman's standard wry comment on such a sortie. Today we were jostling among the noon‐day drinkers in Willoughby's, like drought‐maddened cattle at some dusty African water‐hole, bespeaking a moist luncheon and getting our suits pressed in situ, as it were, into the bargain. Passing a drink from that bar to the rear ranks was about as easy as working a ball out of a tight scrum. Performing astonishing feats of dexterity Cranmer nevertheless presently emerged through the legs of the thronging patrons, thrusting upon me not only the expected foaming pinta, but also an unexpected whisky chaser; a devious act of generosity patently intended to compromise me into some corresponding response not yet specified. I took the benison with some misgiving and drank thoughtfully. “You do owe me a favour, you know, Antrobus!” he declared, a shade reprovingly, taking a long draught and watching my changed expression closely—and it was, of course, true. If that amazon of a matron with the faintly drawn Mexican moustache and parturient beard had discovered me in the nurses' quarters after the party … my future would not have been worth an old five gallon drum.
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