(Read part A here)
“Good morning, Will.” Mr Butler called from the front gate.
He was leaning against the gatepost and looking at him over the top of his spectacles. In his hands an opened letter flapped in the breeze. It was not unusual for Mr Butler to wait at the gate to greet his workers, although Wilson had heard from the other workers that he only did it to see who arrived late.
He decided to stop and see if his employer wished to talk, if only to be away from wood pulp and rags for a few more minutes.
“Good morning, Mr Butler. How are you today?”
“I’m concerned, Will.”
“Am I late, Mr Butler?”
“No, I’m not concerned about you.” Mr Butler realised what he had said and coughed. “Sorry, that’s not what I meant. Are you well?”
“Yes, I’m fine. Why are you concerned, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“This,” He waved the letter towards Wilson, “came from the War Office this morning. It says that I’m to ship out no paper today and wait for officers to arrive at the opening of business.”
“Are we at war, Mr Butler? And what’s a war got to do with paper?”
“You’re asking the wrong man, Will.” He shook his head, and then pointed down the path. “Look there. That must be them.”
A dark shape was tearing its way towards them, throwing off clouds of black smoke. The wood pigeons burst out of the trees and flapped away to the south. As the object drew nearer, Wilson saw that it was a sort of carriage.
It had a pair of large wheels set behind two smaller ones, a high cushioned sear and some form of steering mechanism standing up in its middle. A pair of men in dark green trousers and starched shirts of the same colour sat with straight backs in the rear of the cab.
One of them held the steering handle and applied pressure to a small pedal with his foot. The thundering motorised carriage lurched to a stop beside Wilson and his employer.
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