If Winter Comes eBook

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

“And granted,” said Mr. Fortune—­Mr. Fortune was granting propositions right and left with an amiability out of all keeping with his normal stubbornness—­“and granted that Germany can put into the field the enormous numbers you mention, Twyning, what use are they to her?  None.  No use whatever.  I was talking last night to Sir James Boulder.  His son has been foreign correspondent to one of the London papers for years.  He’s attended the army manoeuvres in Germany, France, Austria everywhere.  He knows modern military conditions through and through, as you may say.  Well, he says—­and it’s obvious when you think of it—­that Germany can’t possibly use her enormous masses.  No room for them.  Only the merest fraction can ever get into action.  Where they’re coming in is like crowding into the neck of a bottle.  Two thirds of them uselessly jammed up behind.  A mere handful can hold them up—­”

Harold put in, “Yes, and those terrific fortresses, sir.”

“Precisely.  Precisely.  Liege, Namur, Antwerp—­absolutely impregnable, all the military correspondents say so.  Impregnable.  Well, then.  There you are.  It’s like sending a thousand men to fight in a street.  Look here—­” He went vigorously to the window.  They all went to the window; Sabre with them, profoundly impressed.  Mr. Fortune pointed into the street.  “There.  That’s what it is.  Here comes your German army down this way from the cathedral.  Choked.  Blocked.  Immovable mob.  How many do you suppose could hold them up?  Thirty, twenty, a dozen.  Hold them up and throw them into hopeless and utter disorder.  Pah!  Simple, isn’t it?  I don’t suppose the thing will last a month.  What do you say, Sabre?”

Sabre was feeling considerably more at ease.  He felt that the first shock of the thing had made him take an exaggerated view.  “I don’t see how it can,” he said, “now I’m hearing a bit more about it.  I was thinking just now what a dramatic thing it would be if it lasted—­of course it can’t—­but if it lasted till next June and the decisive battle was fought in June, 1915, just a hundred years after Waterloo.  That would be dramatic, eh?”

They all laughed, and Sabre, realising the preposterousness of such a notion, laughed with them.  Twyning said, “Next June!  Imagine it!  At the very outside it will be well over by Christmas.”

And they all agreed, “Oh, rather!”

V

It was all immensely reassuring, and Sabre gathered up his bundle of papers and went into his room, feeling on the whole rather pleasurably excited than otherwise.  But as he read, column after column and paper after paper, measures that had been taken by the Government, orders to Army and Naval reservists, the impending call for men, the scenes in the streets of London, and with these the deeply grave tone of the leading articles, the tremendous statistics and the huge foreshadowing of certain of the military correspondents, the breathless news already from the seats of war,—­as his mind thus received there returned to it its earlier sense of enormous oppression and tremendous conjecture.  War....  England....  The first sentence of his history, now greatly advanced, came tremendously into his mind:  “This England you live in is yours....”  And now at war—­challenged—­threatened—­

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If Winter Comes from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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