'What's all this?' he demanded.
'What's all what?' riposted Stiffy with spirit, and I remember thinking that she rather had him there.
'It's against regulations to talk to the prisoner, Miss.'
'Oates,' said Stiffy, 'you're an ass.'
This was profoundly true, but it seemed to annoy the officer. He resented the charge, and said so, and Stiffy said she didn't want any back chat from him.
'You road company rozzers make me sick. I was only trying to cheer him up.'
It seemed to me that the officer gave a bitter snort, and a moment later he revealed why he had done so.
'It's me that wants cheering up,' he said morosely, 'I've just seen Sir Watkyn and he says he isn't pressing the charge.'
'What!' I cried.
'What!' yipped Stiffy.
'That's what,' said the constable, and you could see that while there was sunshine above, there was none in his heart. I could sympathise with him, of course. Naturally nothing makes a member of the Force sicker than to have a criminal get away from him. He was in rather the same position as some crocodile on the Zambesi or some puma in Brazil would have been, if it had earmarked Plank for its lunch and seen him shin up a high tree.