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Arthur Stuart-Menteth Hutchinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 343 pages of information about If Winter Comes.

He went out of the room and along the passage.  As he reached his own room he realised it again.  “War—­” He went quickly back to Mabel.  “I say—­” He stopped.  His feelings most frightfully desired some vent.  None here.  “Look here.  Don’t wait dinner for me.  You start.  I’m going round to Fargus to tell him.”

At the hall door he turned back and went hurriedly into the kitchen.  “I say, it’s war!”

“Well, there now!” cried High Jinks.

“Yes, war.  We’ve sent an ultimatum to Germany.  It ends to-night.”

Low Jinks threw up her hands.  “Well, if that isn’t a short war!”

“Girl alive, the ultimatum ends, not the war.  Don’t you know what an ultimatum is?”

Outside he ran down the drive and ran to Fargus’s door.  It stood open.  In the hall the eldest Miss Fargus appeared to be maintaining the last moment before dinner by “doing” a silver card salver.

“Hullo, Miss Fargus.  I say, is your father about?  I say, it’s war.  We’ve declared war!”

The eldest Miss Fargus lifted her head to another Miss Fargus also “doing” something on the stairs above her, and in a very high voice called, “Papa!  War!”

The staircase Miss Fargus took it up immediately.  “Papa!  War!” and Sabre heard it go echoing through the house, “Papa!  War!  Papa!  War!  Papa!  War!”

“How terrible, how dreadful, how frightful, how awful,” said the eldest Miss Fargus.  “You must excuse me shaking hands, but as you see I am over pink plate powder.  I’m not surprised.  We were discussing it only at breakfast; and for my part, though Julie, Rosie, Poppy and Bunchy were against me, I—­” She broke off to turn and take her portion in a new chorus now filling the house.  Sounds of some one descending the stairs at break-neck speed were heard, and the chorus shrilled, “Papa, take care!  Papa, take care!  Papa, take care!”

Mr. Fargus’s grey little figure came terrifically down the last flight and up the hall, a cloud of female Farguses in his wake.  He ran to Sabre with hands outstretched and grasped Sabre’s hands and wrung them.  “Sabre!  Sabre!  What’s this?  Really?  Truly?  War?  We’ve declared war?  Well, I say, thank God!  Thank God!  I was afraid.  I was terribly afraid we’d stand out.  But thank God, England is England still....  And will be, Sabre; and will be!” He released Sabre’s hands and took out a handkerchief and wiped his eyes.  “I prayed for this,” he said.  “I prayed for God to be in Downing Street last night.”

The chorus, unpleasantly shocked at the idea of God being asked to go to Downing Street, said in a low but stern tone, “Papa, hush.  Papa, hush.  Papa, hush”; but Sabre had come for this excited wringing of his hands and for this emotion.  It was what he had been seeking ever since Pike’s notice board had swung the news before his eyes.  When presently he left he carried with him that which, when his mind would turn to it, caused his heart to swell enormously within him.  Through the evening, and gone to bed and lying awake long into the night, he was at intervals caught up from the dark and oppressive pictures of his mind by surging onset of the emotions that came with Mr. Fargus’s emotion.  War....  His spirit answered, “England!”

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