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Chapter 20

‘Thanks. And remember to be very polite, won’t you, Creamy.’

Creamy nodded and opened the door. ‘Come in, come in,’ he beamed all over his face, as he ushered a woman in. ‘Shall I take your coat, Madam? No? that’s fine. Please follow me. Take a seat, please. Excellent, excellent. Now tell me, what would you like to complain about.’

Lennie stared speechless. Then he smiled to himself, as he listened to Creamy’s flow of small talk. Creamy was certainly trying hard.

‘Are you comfortable, Madam? Would you like a cup of tea? Or coffee?’

‘Hey! Stop this sales patter, young bear!’ exclaimed the woman. ‘This isn’t a tea shop, is it!’

In an instant, Creamy’s beaming smile gave place to an angry growl. ‘I’m not a…’

There was a hasty scraping of a chair along the floor, and Lennie was suddenly standing by Creamy’s desk and bowing. ‘May I introduce myself, Madam. I’m Mr Husky’s Partner. The name is Beagle. I’m sure Mr Husky is most anxious to hear your complaint, Madam. Isn’t that so, Mr Husky?’

Creamy cleared his throat and scowled. Then he gritted his teeth and trying to force a smile asked: ‘What seems to be the problem, Madam?’

‘It’s about that boy who is always swinging on the gate.’

‘What boy is that, Madam?’

‘I’ve just told you – the one that’s always swinging on the gate.’

‘Right. Carry on please,’ said Creamy scribbling: swinging on the gate.

‘And your complaint is?’

That’s it,’ cried the woman crossly, ‘He is always swinging on the gate.’

‘I see,’ said Creamy, 'And er… what about his swinging on the gate?’

‘He’s going to ruin that gate, obviously!’

‘How?’ asked Creamy beginning to get cross on behalf of the boy. ‘How is he going to ruin the gate?’

‘Why, anyone could tell you that if you swing on the gate you’re going to ruin it. It’s a very expensive gate, made of iron and …’

‘An iron gate, you say, Madam? I wonder then – is it because the boy is big and heavy that you think he can ruin it?’

‘No, he’s just a small boy. All the same, I’m sure he’ll break it.’

‘Well, if he’s just a small boy, I don’t see how he can…’ began Creamy, who was very fond of children (as well as of swinging on gates).

‘What’s the matter with you?’ cried the woman, ‘whose side are you on? You’re supposed to be my solicitor, but all you seem to be doing is standing up for that kid!’

Creamy rose with great dignity to his feet, and announced: ‘Actually, I’m on the side of ‘that kid’, Madam. I see no harm in his swinging on the gate, and do not intend to write a complaint about it.’

‘But as my solicitor, you’re supposed to …’

‘In fact,’ continued Creamy firmly, ‘I’ve a good mind to complain about you. I mean a woman as big as you complaining about a little boy! You should be ashamed of yourself!’

‘As big as … how dare you talk to me like that! I’ll… I’ll….In short, you’ll be hearing from my solicitors!’

‘We are your solicitors,’ pointed out Creamy, ‘and you won’t be hearing from us. So there! And now please kindly leave my office, madam.’

Lennie groaned softly and rushed over to the woman smiling apologies. But the woman had already snatched her coat off the hook and stormed out, banging the door behind her hard.

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