The Assistant Commissioner was careful of his appearance before meeting men younger than himself. It gave him the same kind of confidence as dressing for dinner had done in eastern forests. He opened the cupboard door and brushed his dark suit before the mirror, his narrow yellow face bent close to the glass. Young men had certain savage qualities; they moved quickly; sometimes they carried poisoned weapons. He brushed slowly in rhythm with the plodding jungle step of his mind. He said to his secretary: "I’ve put my telephone number on the desk. If there’s anything urgent . . ." As usual before a sentence was finished he became lost in the difficulties of expression. Slowly, with a fateful accumulation of hesitant sounds, he hacked his way forward. “Er - urgent, you will please – er - ring up the number, and - er - ask for me.” Bowler-hatted, umbrella over the left arm, he passed down long passages lined with little glass cells. Telephone bells rang, electric buzzers whirred like cicadas along his route, but his thoughts were stepped carefully on, undeflected, undelayed, certainly unhurried.
By the time he reached the courtyard, he had decided that he did not care for politics. In Northumberland Avenue he said to himself that justice was just not his business.
Text: Graham Greene, It’s A Battlefield (1934)
Pictures: 1. Massacio - Crucifixion of St. Peter (1426); 2. Massacio - Holy Trinity (1425); 3. Gravesite of Graham Greene, Corseaux, Switzerland.