Menzies ushered Collier into his office. A clerk approached Menzies and after a brief discussion left.
“I’m sorry about this. Totally unexpected. Won’t be long. In the meantime, make yourself comfortable.”
Alone, Collier scanned the spacious corner office. Square dark oak panels decorated the walls. On the Indian rug facing Menzies’ desk was a leather set of two chairs and couch. Collier deeply inhaled the rich smell of leather that permeated the room. In front of him, surrounded by heavy moulding, were two unstained lancet windows, tall and narrow and pointed at the arches. Thick crown moulding lined all the ceiling edges. Occupying half of one wall closest to Menzies’ desk was a bookcase. Meandering across the room, Collier perused its shelves. Each shelf was filled with an eclectic assortment of pamphlets and volumes not unusual for a government official. Collier’s attention was attracted to a small section at eye-level closest to Menzies’ desk. There his fingers danced along their spines until they came to rest on a book by R.C. Sherriff, The Fortnight in September. Sliding it out, he opened it. On the inside cover was a personal inscription to Menzies by the author. He was startled to discover Menzies standing behind him.
“I see you have found him.” Menzies had an amply filled folder and large manila envelope tucked under one arm. Stepping around Collier, he placed the folder and envelope side-by-side on his desk and sat down.
“Found him? Whatever do you mean?”
“Robert. R.C. The author of the book you’re holding. He like you and I fought at Ypres and I thought—.Oh, it doesn’t matter. Have you read it?”
“No, I haven’t.” Collier fanned its pages.
“I guess no surprise. He had been quite reluctant to submit it to his publisher, you know. Once over supper one evening, Robert told me ‘it is like feeding a fruit drop to a lion.’ He thought the book too trivial and ordinary. But, nevertheless, it was a wild success. He’s best known for his play Journey’s End. It’s on the shelf too.” Collier g...