“If that’s his name,” Sabre said. He had remained standing looking towards father and son precisely as he had stood and looked at the party’s entry.
Mr. Fortune glanced sharply at him and compressed his lips. “It is,” he said shortly. He left the room.
Twyning spoke his first words since his entry. “Well, there we are, old man.” He smiled and breathed strongly through his nose, as if tensing himself against some emergency that might arise.
Sabre said, “Yes, well done, Twyning. Of course he promised you this long ago.”
“Yes, didn’t he? Glad you remember my telling you. Of course it won’t make the least difference to you, old man. What I mean is, if anything I hope I shall be able to give you a leg up in all sorts of ways. I’ve been telling Harold what a frightfully smart man you are, haven’t I, Harold?”
Harold smiled assent to this tribute, and Sabre said, “I suppose we shall go on much as before?”
“Oh, rather, old man.”
“Harold be working in your room, eh?”
“Yes, that’s the idea, for a start, anyway. They’re just shoving up a desk for him. Come along in and see how we’re fixing it, old man.”
“I’ll look in presently.”
“Righto, old man. Come along, Harold.” At the door he turned and said, “Oh, by the way. I want you to show Harold through the work of this side of the business a bit later on.”
Sabre looked quickly at him. “You want me to?”
Twyning flushed darkly. “Well, he may as well get the hang of the whole business, mayn’t he? That’s what I mean.”
“Oh, certainly he should. I quite agree. Send him along any time you like.”
“Thanks awfully, old man.”
But outside the door Twyning added to himself: “You thought that was an order, my lord; and you didn’t like it. Pretty soon you won’t think. You’ll know.”
Sabre remained standing at his desk. He had a tiny ball of paper in his hand and he rolled it round between his finger and thumb, round and round and round and round.... In his mind was a recollection: “You have struck your tents and are upon the march.”
He thought, “This has been coming a long time.... It’s my way of looking at things has done this. I’m getting so I’ve got nowhere to turn. It’s no good pretending I don’t feel this. I feel it most frightfully.... I’ve let down the books. They’ll take a back place in the business now. Twyning’s always been jealous of them. Fortune’s never really liked my success with them. They’ll begin interfering with the books now.... My books.... It was rottenly done. Behind my back. Plotted against me, or they wouldn’t have sprung it on me like that. That shows what it’s going to be like.... It’s all through my way of looking at things.... I’ve no one here I can take things to. This frightful feeling of being alone in the place. And it’s going to be worse. And nowhere to get out of it. More empty at home.... And now there’s this. And I’ve got to go back to that.... ‘You have struck your tents and are upon the march’ ... Yes. Yes....”