You tell him the second type said and struck the old

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‘You tell him,’ the second type said, and struck the old man in the eye. ‘Whenhe’s in. You mention it.’He had locked the front door after that; but much later, well after midnight,there was a hammering. Mixed-Up called out, ‘Who?’‘We are close friends of the Maharaja of B—’ said a voice. ‘No, I tell a lie.
Acquaintances.’‘He calls upon a lady of our acquaintance,’ said a second voice. ‘To be precise.’‘It is in that connection that we crave audience,’ said the first voice.‘Gone,’ said Mecir. ‘Jet plane. Gone.’There was a silence. Then the second voice said, ‘Can’t be in the jet set if younever jump on a jet, eh? Biarritz, Monte, all of that.’‘Be sure and let His Highness know’, said the first voice, ‘that we eagerly awaithis return.’‘With regard to our mutual friend,’ said the second voice. ‘Eagerly.’What does the poor bewildered opponent do?The words from the chess bookpopped unbidden into my head.How can he defend everything at once? Where willthe blow fall? Watch Mecir keep Najdorf on the run, as he shifts the attack from sideto side!Mixed-Up returned to his lounge and on this occasion, even though there hadbeen no use of force, he began to weep. After a time he took the elevator up tothe fourth floor and whispered through our letterbox to Certainly-Mary sleepingon her mat.‘I didn’t want to wake Sahib,’ Mary said. ‘You know his trouble, na? AndBegum Sahiba is so tired at end of the day. So now you tell, baba, what to do?’What did she expect me to come up with? I was sixteen years old. ‘Mixed-Upmust call the police,’ I unoriginally offered.‘No, no, baba,’ said Certainly-Mary emphatically. ‘If the courter makes ascandal for Maharaja-log, then in the end it is the courter only who will be out onhis ear.’I had no other ideas. I stood before them feeling like a fool, while they bothturned upon me their frightened, supplicant eyes.‘Go to sleep,’ I said. ‘We’ll think about it in the morning.’The first pair of thugswere tacticians, I was thinking.They were troublesome to meet. But the second pairwere scarier; they were strategists. They threatened to threaten.Nothinghappenedinthemorning,andtheskywasclear.Itwasalmostimpossible to believe in fists, and menacing voices at the door. During the courseof the day both Maharajas visited the porter’s lounge and stuck five-pound notesin Mixed-Up’s waistcoat pocket. ‘Held the fort, good man,’ said Prince P—, andthe Maharaja of B— echoed those sentiments: ‘Spot on. All handled now, achha?Problem over.’The three of us – Aya Mary, her courter, and me – held a council of war thatafternoon and decided that no further action was necessary. The hall porter wasthe front line in any such situation, I argued, and the front line had held. And
now the risks were past. Assurances had been given. End of story.‘Endofstory,’repeatedCertainly-Marydoubtfully,butthen,seekingtoreassure Mecir, she brightened. ‘Correct,’ she said. ‘Most certainly! All-done,finis.’ She slapped her hands against each other for emphasis. She asked Mixed-Up if he wanted a game of chess; but for once the courter didn’t want to play.10After that I was distracted, for a time, from the story of Mixed-Up and Certainly-Mary by violence nearer home.

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