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 That will do, ' said the gentleman.  Ask Mr Wilson and Mr Sterry to
step up here for a moment, please. '
Mr Sterry and Mr Wilson were in their turn overcome by
amazement quickly followed by conviction. To the surprise of the
children every one in the office took the Phoenix at its word, and
after the first shock of surprise it seemed to be perfectly natural to
every one that the Phoenix should be alive, and that, passing
through London, it should call at its temple.
 We ought to have some sort of ceremony, ' said the nicest
gentleman, anxiously.  There isn t time to summon the directors and
shareholders we might do that tomorrow, perhaps. Yes, the board-
room would be best. I shouldn t like it to feel we hadn t done
everything in our power to show our appreciation of its
condescension in looking in on us in this friendly way. '
The children could hardly believe their ears, for they had never
thought that any one but themselves would believe in the Phoenix.
And yet every one did; all the men in the office were brought in by
twos and threes, and the moment the Phoenix opened its beak it
convinced the cleverest of them, as well as those who were not so
clever. Cyril wondered how the story would look in the papers next
day. He seemed to see the posters in the streets:
PHOENIX FIRE OFFICE
THE PHOENIX AT ITS TEMPLE
MEETING TO WELCOME IT
DELIGHT OF THE MANAGER AND EVERYBODY.
83
The Phoenix and the Carpet
 Excuse our leaving you a moment, ' said the nice gentleman, and he
went away with the others; and through the half-closed door the
children could hear the sound of many boots on stairs, the hum of
excited voices explaining, suggesting, arguing, the thumpy drag of
heavy furniture being moved about.
The Phoenix strutted up and down the leather-covered table, looking
over its shoulder at its pretty back.
 You see what a convincing manner I have, ' it said proudly.
And now a new gentleman came in and said, bowing low
 Everything is prepared we have done our best at so short a notice;
the meeting the ceremony will be in the board-room. Will the
Honourable Phoenix walk it is only a few steps or would it like to
be would it like some sort of conveyance? '
 My Robert will bear me to the board-room, if that be the unlovely
name of my temple s inmost court, ' replied the bird.
So they all followed the gentleman. There was a big table in the
board-room, but it had been pushed right up under the long
windows at one side, and chairs were arranged in rows across the
room like those you have at schools when there is a magic lantern
on  Our Eastern Empire , or on  The Way We Do in the Navy . The
doors were of carved wood, very beautiful, with a carved Phoenix
above. Anthea noticed that the chairs in the front rows were of the
kind that her mother so loved to ask the price of in old furniture
shops, and never could buy, because the price was always nearly
twenty pounds each. On the mantelpiece were some heavy bronze
candlesticks and a clock, and on the top of the clock was another
image of the Phoenix.
 Remove that effigy, ' said the Phoenix to the gentlemen who were
there, and it was hastily taken down. Then the Phoenix fluttered to
the middle of the mantelpiece and stood there, looking more golden
than ever. Then every one in the house and the office came in from
the cashier to the women who cooked the clerks dinners in the
beautiful kitchen at the top of the house. And every one bowed to
the Phoenix and then sat down in a chair.
 Gentlemen, ' said the nicest gentleman,  we have met here today '
84
The Phoenix and the Carpet
The Phoenix was turning its golden beak from side to side.
 I don t notice any incense, ' it said, with an injured sniff. A hurried
consultation ended in plates being fetched from the kitchen. Brown
sugar, sealing-wax, and tobacco were placed on these, and
something from a square bottle was poured over it all. Then a match
was applied. It was the only incense that was handy in the Phoenix
office, and it certainly burned very briskly and smoked a great deal.
 We have met here today, ' said the gentleman again,  on an occasion [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]