“Oh, nonsense!” he retorted. “Let the old man wait. Sit down and talk to me. I don’t get a chance to talk with mortals very often. This is your first visit to Olympus?”
“Yes, sir,” I said, still standing. “And it is wholly unexpected. I stumbled upon the place by the merest chance last night—but you must let me go, sir. I’ll come back later very gladly and talk with you if I get a chance. It will never do for me to keep his Majesty waiting, you know.”
“Oh, the deuce with his Majesty,” said the old gentleman, testily. “What do you want to see him for? He’s an old fossil.”
“Granted,” said I. “Still, I’m interested in old fossils.”
The old gentleman roared with laughter at this apparently simple remark. I didn’t see the fun of it myself, and his mirth irritated me.
“Excuse me, my dear sir,” I said, trying to control my impatience. “But you don’t seem to understand my position. I can’t stay here and talk to you while the ruler of Olympus waits. Can’t you see that?”
“No, I can’t,” he replied. “Can’t see it at all, and I’m a pretty good seer as a general thing, too. If you didn’t wish to see me, you had no business to come into my room. Now that you are here, I’m going to keep you for a little while. Take off that absurd-looking tile and sit down.”
At this I grew angry. I wasn’t responsible for the helmet I wore, and I had felt all along that I looked like an ass in it.
“I’ll do nothing of the sort, you confounded old meddler,” I cried. “I’ve come here on invitation, and, if I’ve got into the wrong room, it isn’t my fault. That jackass of a Major Domo told me this was the place. Let me out.”
I strode to the doorway, and the old gentleman turned to his desk and opened a drawer.
“Cigar or cigarette?” he said, calmly.
“Neither, you old fool,” I retorted, turning the knob and tugging upon it. “I have no time for a smoke.”
The door was locked. The old gentleman settled back in his twirling chair and regarded me with a twinkle in his eye as I vainly tried to pull the door open, and I realized that I was helpless.
“Better sit down and enjoy a quiet smoke with me,” he said, calmly. “Take off that absurd-looking tile and talk to me.”
“I haven’t anything to say to you,” I replied. “Not a word. Do you intend to let me out of this or not?”
“All in good time—all in good time,” he said. “Let’s talk it over. Why do you wish to go? Don’t you find me good company?”
“You’re a stupid old idiot!” I shouted, almost weeping with rage. “Locking me up in your rotten old den here when you must realize what you are depriving me of. What earthly good it does you I can’t see.”
[Illustration: “THE DOOR WAS LOCKED”]
“It does me lots of good,” he said, with a chuckle. “Really, sir, it gives me a new sensation—first new sensation I have had in a long, long time. Let me see now, just how many names have you called me in the three minutes I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance?”