Charles Darwyn stood speechless, gazing in awe at his beautiful new visitor, who, after a few moments, repeated: 'I am PUTAMANUMKWEE, may I come in?'
Spluttering in confusion, the Professor stood back from the doorway and said: 'Of course, of course. Come in do. Pigsly and Wat have mentioned you quite a bit, but they never told us you were a woman.'
PTMNMQe walked into the hall and stood elegantly by the coat-stand. 'I am nothing of the sort, as you should well know by now. I am an It. The senior It for these parts. The others are through here, I take it.' Walking through into the sitting-room, It said: 'Good evening everyone. We've quite a gathering I see.' Holding it's hand out to the Major it said: 'You are Henry Warren I assume.'
'Major Warren, yes..that's right. Um.....pleased to meet you.'
'Are you, indeed?'
'Well, er.... um....' The Major was confused by PTMNMQe's terse quip, but was immediately put at ease by It's bright smile.
'Don't mind me,' It said, 'I'm just being naughty - staying in some sort of character, you know.' Turning to Captain Bond, It again held out a hand. 'How do you do, Claude? You must be relieved to be here, and not running for your life down some Devonian back alley. Oh dear! You've gone quite pale.'
'Well it's not funny, you know,' said the Captain. 'The Major and I are marked men now, and the Lord knows how it's all going to end.'
'Yes, well it's hardly even started yet, so I'll douse my poor attempts at humour - flippancy is not in my nature, nor is it in my job description - and we'll get down to cases.' Walking further into the room, PTMNMQe sat down on the sofa, crossed It's nyloned legs, and leaning comfortably back against the cushions, said: 'For the sake of day-to-day convenience you had better know that my Ballsian name is Lucy Diamond.' It grinned impishly and said: 'I did think of calling myself Lucy Furr, but quickly decided that you Ballsians would almost certainly fail to see the reverse joke, and take the name phonetically seriously - so Diamond it is.'
Sebastian, who had been gazing in wide eyed wonder at this delectable creature, asked: 'You aren't, are you? Lucifer, I mean. You really are just a common or garden It - like Pigsly and Wat?'
Wat put It's hands over It's face and shook It's head, and Pigsly let out a shocked gasp. 'I say! Steady on old chap. You can't go saying things like that you know! There's nothing common or garden about Lucy Diamond. Lucy is our boss; in fact It is the co-ordinator and controller of all the Its in Britain.'
'And a very difficult job it's proving to be too,' said Lucy. 'I have to tell you that Grey Tit is not very happy with the way things are going - anywhere!'
'It's only been just over a month since we got started,' protested the Professor, 'and we've been told all along that we have plenty of time ahead of us to make progress.'
Lucy shook it's head. 'You have to realise that Grey Tit knows and sees all, over all time, forwards and backwards. After twenty-one million, one hundred and twenty-one thousand, two hundred and eighteen successful planetary salvations, you should know that Grey Tit's prognosis for Balls, or Earth as you call it, is - total failure. Failure, that is, if you are left to change and develop voluntarily - using your free will. That has always been most important to Grey Tit - free will.'
Sebastian asked: 'So, what's to be done then? What does Grey Tit think we should do - just, give up?'
Major Warren, who had been pacing restlessly back and forth, said: 'We can't give up just like that! Claude and I are way out on a limb, so to speak. We can't go back and say "Sorry! Can we have our jobs back?"; we're dead men.'
Lucy gave a little laugh. 'It's not as bad as all that,' it said. 'The Grey Tit is prepared to be pragmatic in the case of Balls. That is very rare indeed. The last time the Great Universal Intelligence gave way to pragmatism was when It allowed Lucifer, as you call it, to remain in some sort of existence - although with somewhat limited powers. It felt that an element of evil in the cosmos would be a kind of yardstick against which goodness could be measured. Where Earth is concerned, Grey Tit is prepared to go along with a consensus.'
'How will that work?' asked the Professor.
'Easily, as it turns out,' said Lucy. 'It is well known, and accepted, that Balls is currently controlled by only one percent of the population. That leaves 99% without much influence or power. That is a pretty convincing consensus in favour of sense, commonsense and goodness - wouldn't you say?'
'Certainly! And...so?' Captain Bond was looking decidedly brighter than earlier - perhaps even hopeful.
'And so,' Lucy said, 'the Grey Tit is prepared to allow change and development against the will of the one percenters.'
'That could mean having to force the issue a bit,' said Major Warren.
Lucy said nothing, just looked up at the ceiling.
'They won't like it!' said Sebastian, 'It could get a bit rough.'
Lucy re-crossed it's legs, and studied it's fingernails.
'Just imagine,' said Captain Bond, 'a sort of massive civil disobedience - all over the world.'
Lucy sat up straight and with a grin said: 'Professor, how about whiskies all round.'
To be continued....................................
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