Chapter 2

For the rest of the week Kate went to Sir Angus's office, not knowing whether each day there would be her last. She longed to ask him if he was satisfied with her, but pride kept her silent, and she hoped he would make some comment about it the following week when she gave him his Friday afternoon post to sign. But in this action she was forestalled, for even as she was sorting through the last of his letters to type, he came through from his office, his coat over his arm and his briefcase in his hand. Without realizing it she must have glanced at her watch, for he saw the look and smiled.

"Yes, Miss Quinn, I'm actually leaving early today! And so can you. It'll make up for the extra hours you've done."

"But the rest of your letters…"

"Leave 'me till Monday. We've already done the most urgent ones. All I'd like you to do is to wait until my call from the Minister comes through. It comes in on my private line and I'd like you to answer it personally. Explain that I had to leave early, but I will call the Minister this evening at Downing Street."

"Very well, Sir Angus."

"If the Minister himself is on the line, say I left early because I'm taking my son to the airport." As he saw the look of surprise on Kate's face his voice raised a ton higher. "Why the amazement, Miss Quinn?" "Amazement?" she hedged. "Yes. It's written on your face in bright red letters! Come now, it's not like you to show tact! Why should you find it surprising that I'm taking my son to the airport?"

"Because it's the sort of thing ordinary people usually do -1 mean, seeing their son off on a journey…"

Sir Angus shifted his briefcase to his other hand. "In matters concerning my son," he said quietly, "I'm very ordinary.

It's the nicest thing to be."

She flushed, sensing the rebuke. "Yes, Sir Angus." With an effort she looked him in the face. "Will you want me to work for you next week?

"It I didn't, I'd say so. Good afternoon." The door closed behind him and she sat down and gave a deep sigh, part satisfaction, part trepidation at the future she was letting herself in for.

It was after six o'clock - so much for her being able to leave early - when the call from the Minister arrived, and recognizing the voice as belonging to the great man himself, she gave the reason for her employer's early departure.

"And where was it you said young Quinn's going?" came me bland question. "The Middle East or the Far East?"

Knowing she had said nothing about destination, Kate kept her tone equally bland. "I'm afraid I don't know, sir."

"Won't say, you mean! Sir Angus's secretaries are always too well trained to answer any questions! Very well, tell him to call me later."

As she replaced the receiver, the Minister's last words ringing in her ears, Kate felt her first thrill of pride in her job, realizing the confidence placed in her discretion, the reliance placed on her integrity. She would do everything possible to see she did not let Sir Angus down.

Her second week as private secretary was less arduous than the first, though she was not sure if it was due to decreasing pressure of work or because she was more able to cope with it. Apart from the grudging praise Sir Angus had given the first memorandum she had typed for him, he gave her no other compliments, but the fact that he let her remain indicated he at least found her less irritating than the other girls he had tried.

It was not until three months after she .had accepted George Simmons's offer that she received a telephone call from him asking her to go and see him, and wondering if it was Sir Angus's way of dismissing her, she went to the personnel manager's office during her lunch break.

"Don't look so alarmed," Mr. Simmons said as he saw her anxious face. "I only wanted to see you so that I could personally let you know that Sir Angus has confirmed that he wishes you to remain with him. Your salary will be increased by five hundred a year and will be backdated to start from the first week you took over."

Kate was too delighted to speak, and beaming with the pride of a mother hen, the personnel manager continued: "You've done even better than I expected, Miss Quinn. Sir Angus isn't only pleased with you - he likes you!"

It was this last remark that spurred Kate into speaking directly with Sir Angus upon his return from lunch.

"Finished the letters already?" he asked as she entered his office.

"No, sir. I just…I've had my job confirmed," She blurted out, "and I wanted to thank you."

"There's no need for that," he said irritably. "If you weren't any good I wouldn't keep you. Now go away and stop fussing!"

"I'm sorry for interrupting you."

"You're not sorry at all! You're annoyed with me for not letting you ramble on about my largesse and the extra money you're getting!" He grinned at her impishly and she was astonished at the way humor softened his hard features. "I know exactly what you wanted to say to me, Miss Quinn. You're as transparent as a country stream before pollution!"

"This morning's leader in one of your better class papers," she retorted.

He laughed. "True - but tactless to say so! You should always let your employer believe his remarks are entirely his own."

 "But what you've just said is yours. You wrote the leader yourself."

"I didn't dictate it to you," he retorted.

"I know. But I recognize your style."

He frowned. "I'll have to make sure it's not so easily recognizable in future. I don't normally write leaders for my own papers - I like my editors to get on with their own job - but I feel so strongly about pollution that -" The ringing of the green telephone on his desk interrupted him. It was the direct link between himself and his most senior director, and he picked it up immediately.

Kate, about to turn and leave, stopped as she saw the color leave his face, and listened unashamedly to the conversation.

"When did it happen?" Sir Angus was asking. "How bad is it?… Don't fumble around, Jack, tell me the truth!

I see___" His voice lowered and then rose again. ''Charter a plane for me. I'll leave at once." He banged down the telephone and looked at her. "My son," he said. "It's my son. He was due back tonight, but his plane made an emergency landing at Athens." He stood up and came round the side of the desk, his hip banging into it as if he did not know it was there. "I'm flying out to him. You'll have to cancel my appointments… make my apologies…"

 "Please don't worry about it. I'll do everything that's necessary." She hesitated and then could not refrain from asking the question foremost in her mind. "Is Mr. Robertson badly hurt?"

"He may not even live." Without another word he walked out, and Kate returned to her office.

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