No sooner had the door closed, than he swiveled his chair and looked intently at the ten phones spread from left to right across his table top. In a series of actions that seemed to be blurred, he picked each phone, in turn, from left to right. As he held each phone he barked minimalist commands with a harshness usually heard at military command centers.
In phone one he shouted "sell." In phone two, he shouted "buy". In phone three, he shouted "hold for 24 hours." In phone four, he shouted "I'm sorry Riley. You did not do what I said. You're fired." In this way he barked into each of the ten phones one by one starting from the left.
Carruthers then sat back as if he had begun a meditation or entered a state of reverie. After a while, he opened a drawer and took out a small box made of solid walnut. From it, he took out an old fashioned single shot pistol. Magnificently coated in gold it was obviously a treasured heirloom.
As the large wall clock chimed half past eleven, Miss Robintrop walked again this time carrying a Louis XVI tea-set, on a heavy silver tray. Then some things happened that threw her completely off guard.
She saw the pistol in his hands and heard him say something to her. This had never happened before. She had never heard him say anything more than single five word sentences.
"I say, Miss Robintrop. You do look strange. Have you seen a ghost? Here in the office? Are you sure? Are you alright?"
"Yes Sir. I'm alright, Sir. It's just seeing that gun in your hand. It gave me a shock."
"Oh, you mean this dueling pistol? It's a family thing, you know. Given to us by the Czar. For services rendered. Please don't ask me what they were. Can't really talk about it, you know."
"That's wonderful, Mr Ponsoby. But it's just an ornament, isn't? You can't shoot with it, can you, Sir?"
"Of course not. It's just for show. It makes a good conversation piece at after dinner chats. It's not even loaded. Hasn't been for years."
As he spoke, he pointed the gun at the far wall and with his first smile that she had ever seen playfully pulled the trigger.
The half inch diameter lead ball left the barrel after a deafening bang, hastened, at about 600 feet per second, towards a bronze statue of a discuss thrower, bounced off the athllete's off a shoulder to careen along the far wall. There it tore a gash across a very good copy of a Velasquez painting of a grand but not very handsome queen. The ball continued on its way and ricocheting of a Ming vase found its final resting place in the chest of Miss Robintrop.
When he saw her lying on the floor, a look of concern crossed his face. With raised eyebrows, he stared at her for a while and then walked around his desk to get a better look at her.
"I say, Miss Robintrop. Is this really necessary? I mean lying there like that. What will the people think?"
She was silent for a long time but eventually managed to squeeze out a few words through her tightly clenched teeth.
"I'm sorry, Sir. I think that I've been shot. Don't worry about me lying here, Sir. I'll work in the time after hours."
He looked at her for a while and then went into the wash room, opened a medicine chest and took out the only bottle to be seen. He opened the cork and smelt it.
"Aha. A good old fashioned cough syrup. That should just about do it."