Lying awake, he thought of Nona. He had not written the letter to her. The appointed day was past and he had not written. He would have said, during that unutterable darkness in which he had awaited it, that not the turning of the world upside down would have prevented him writing; but the world had turned upside down. It was not a board Pike’s men had swung around in that appalling moment when he had watched them appear on the balcony. It was the accustomed and imponderable world, awfully unbalanced. Nona would understand. Nona always understood everything. He wondered how she had maintained this terrific day. He was assured that he knew. She would have felt just as he had felt. He thought, with a most passionate longing for her, that he would have given anything to have been able to turn to her when he had exclaimed, “My God, war”, and to have caught her hands and looked into her beautiful face. To-morrow he would send the letter. To-morrow? Why, yes, to-day, like all to-days in the removed and placid light of all to-morrows, would be shown needlessly hectic. Ten to one something would have happened in the night to make to-day look foolish. If nothing had happened, if it still was war, it could only be a swiftly over business, a rapid and general recognition of the impossibility of war in modern conditions.
Disturbingly upon these thoughts appeared the face of Otway, the little beads of perspiration about his nose.
His consciousness stumbled away into the mazy woods of sleep, and turned, and all night sought to return, and stumbled sometimes to its knees among the drowsy snares, and saw strange mirages of the round world horrifically tilted with “War” upon its face, of Nona held away and not approachable, of intense light and of suffocating darkness; and rousing and struggling away from these, and stumbling yet, rarely succumbing.
When he went down into Tidborough in the morning it was to know at once that this to-morrow gave no lie to its precedent day. It intensified it. The previous day foreshadowed war. The new day presented it.
The papers, as it happened, did not arrive before he left, and Mabel had more to say of her annoyance with the insufferable Jones than of what his withheld wares might contain. Her attitude towards the international position was—up to this point of its development—precisely this: she had been following the crisis day by day with appreciation of its sensational headlines while these were in the paper before her, but without further interest when the paper was read. She folded up the thrones, the chancelleries, the councils, the armies and the peoples and put them away in the brass newspaper rack in the morning room and proceeded about her duties and her engagements. But she liked unfolding them and she was thoroughly annoyed with the insufferable Jones for preventing her from unfolding them. She said she would come down into Tidborough and speak to Jones herself.