Harry walked closer to him and the wizard held up a long golden rod, thin and flexible as a car aerial, and passed it up and down Harry's front and back.
They were standing at one end of a very long and splendid hall with a highly polished, dark wood floor. The peacock blue ceiling was inlaid with gleaming golden symbols that kept moving and changing like some enormous heavenly noticeboard. The wall's on each side were panelled in shiny dark wood and had many gilded fireplaces set into them. Every few seconds a witch or wizard would emerge from one of the left-hand fireplaces with a soft whoosh. On the right-hand side, short queues were forming before each fireplace, waiting to depart.
'Yes,' said Harry, feeling both impatient and slightly desperate, 'it's a stag, it's always a stag.'
'A - what?' said Harry.
'Oh no, this is too trivial for Aurors, it'll be the ordinary Magical Law Enforcement Patrol - ah, Harry, this is Perkins.'
'Not to worry, not to worry,' said Dumbledore pleasantly; he took out his wand, gave it a little flick, and a squashy chintz armchair appeared out of nowhere next to Harry. Dumbledore sat down, out the tips of his long fingers together and surveyed Fudge over them with an expression of polite interest. The Wizengamot was still muttering and fidgeting restlessly; only when Fudge spoke again did they settle down.
'We do, in fact, have a witness to the presence of Dementors in that alleyway,' he said, 'other than Dudley Dursley, I mean.'
'Yes,' said Harry, 'because - '
'It's not a question of how impressive the magic was,' said Fudge in a testy voice, 'in fact, the more impressive the worse it is, I would have thought, given that the boy did it in plain view of a Muggle!'
The floor of the telephone box shuddered. They were sinking slowly into the ground. Harry watched apprehensively as the pavement seemed to rise up past the glass windows of the telephone box until darkness closed over their heads. Then he could see nothing at all; he could hear only a dull grinding noise as the telephone box made its way down through the earth. After about a minute, though it felt much longer to Harry, a chink of golden light illuminated his feet and, widening, rose up his body, until it hit him in the face and he had to blink to stop his eyes watering.
'No, no, I'm sure its fine,' said Mr Weasley, holding the receiver above his head and peering at the dial. 'Let's see . . . six . . .' he dialled the number, 'two . . . four . . . and another four . . . and another two . . .'
Madam Bones looked down at Mrs Figg in silence. Fudge was not looking at her at all, but fidgeting with his papers. Finally, he raised his eyes and said, rather aggressively, That's what you saw, is it?'
'Arthur's taking you to work with him,' said Mrs Weasley gently.
'Knowing that you were in an area full of Muggles?'
'I had gone out to buy cat food from the corner shop at the end of Wisteria Walk, around about nine o'clock, on the evening of the second of August,' gabbled Mrs Figg at once, as though she had learned what she was saying by heart, 'when I heard a disturbance down the alleyway between Magnolia Crescent and Wisteria Walk. On approaching the mouth of the alleyway I saw Dementors running - '
Mr Weasley skidded to a halt beside the lifts and jabbed impatiently at the 'down' button.
A stooped, timid-looking old wizard with fluffy white hair had just entered the room, panting.
"Third regurgitating public toilet reported in Bethnal Green, kindly investigate immediately." This is getting ridiculous . . .'