He moves around the room like a cat, like a subtle predator quite at home in its territory. He is a small man with a small presence, and yet he does not cower or slink. He is not meek.
The information he is bringing me (un-asked-for) pertains aptly to the affairs I have been working on. As he fastidiously clears a space on the corner of my desk to lay them down I notice that several of the files in fact are on people I had not yet considered to be of importance in this case (although given time...), and it strikes me once again how much I have shaped my head clerk in my own image.
He anticipates me in every way he can. He brings me tea, which is certainly not in his job description. His knowledge of the everyday and the thinking of the common man are invaluable to me. I would consider his ability to retrieve the relevant information for a day's worth of political speculation based on no more than the list of names involved nothing short of magical, had I not been the one to teach him the basics of memorisation and lateral thinking. Here I must strive to be honest: I taught him first priciples only. It is his extraordinary mind that has done the rest.
Sometimes I wonder if he has become a little too like me, insofar as his insight into my habits could be a grave weakness in my armour. For his own sake too; my life is one of thinking, overthinking and the kind of vigilance that would be called paranoia, had I not been proved quite correct time and again. That's a heavy burden to lay on the shoulders of a studious-minded young man of barely thirty.
He fascinates me; that is the long and the short of it. Well - the short. The long is something I have not analysed too deeply. Something that would involve admissions of loneliness, of the burden of responsibility, all those things that it would be impractical and in fact quite useless to dwell upon. To have someone to trust, I have often thought, would be a wondrous thing. And quite by accident, it seems that that person has become Rufus Drumknott.
Even as I think on this, showing no signs, of course, that I am interested in anything but my reading, he trims the nib of my pen and replaces it in its stand. I reach for it to make a note and he pauses, just for a moment, looking at me.
"Thank you, Drumknott." I say.
I want to say more, but however could I?