If Winter Comes eBook

Arthur Stuart-Menteth Hutchinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 462 pages of information about If Winter Comes.

Sabre felt a sudden catch at his emotions.  “Is the regiment going?”

They were at the door of the anteroom.  Cottar swung it open.  The room was full of men and tobacco smoke and noise.  A very tall youth, one Sikes, was standing on the table, a glass in his hand.  “Hullo, Sabre!  Messman, one of those very stiff whiskies for Mr. Sabre—­go on, Sabre, you must.  Because—­” He had not Cottar’s reticence.  He burst into song, waving his glass—­“Because—­

    “We shan’t be here in the morning—­”

They all took it up, bawling uproariously: 

    We shan’t be here in the morning,
    We shan’t be here in the morning,
    We shan’t be here in the mor-or-ning,
    Before the break of day!

Otway came in.  “Shut up, you noisy young fools.  What the—­”

Sikes from the table.  “Ah, Papa Otway!  Three cheers for Papa Otway in very discreet whispers.  Messman, one of those very stiff whiskies for Captain Otway.”

Otway laughed pleasantly.  “No, chuck it, I’m not drinking.  Hood, I want you; and you, Carmichael, and you, Bullen.”  He saw Sabre and came to him.  “Hullo, Sabre.  You’ve heard now.  We’ve managed to keep it pretty close, but it’s all over the place now.  Yes, we entrain at daybreak.”

Sabre felt frightfully affected.  He could hardly speak.  “Good Lord.  I can’t realise it.  I say, Otway, do you remember predicting this nearly two years ago?  You said this would find us all unawares.  You were one of the people every one laughed at.”

Precisely the same Otway who had spoken with such extraordinary intensity outside the Corn Exchange eighteen months before began to speak with extraordinary intensity now.  “That?  Oh, I don’t give a damn for any of that now.  This is our show now, Sabre.  The Army’s show.  I don’t give a damn for what happens at home now.  This is our show.  Sabre, you don’t know what this is for me.  I’ve lived for this, dreamt about it, thought about it, eaten it, drunk it ever since I was a kid at Sandhurst.  Now it’s come.  By God, it’s come at last!”

The same Otway!  Positively the little beads of perspiration were shining about his nose.  His eyes scintillated an extraordinary light.  He said, “By God, Sabre, you ought to have seen the battalion on parade this morning!  By God, they were magnificent.  They’re the finest thing that ever happened.  There’s nothing in the Army List to touch us.  When I think I’ll be in action with them perhaps inside a week—­I—­”

An orderly approached and spoke to him.  “Right.  Right.  I’ll come along at once.”  He was swiftly away.  “Patterson, I want you too.  There’s a man in your company says his wife—­”

And, stilled during his presence, babel broke out anew with his departure.  Some one, standing on a sofa, caught up Otway’s last word into a bawling song—­

    I’ve got a wife and sixteen kids,
    I’ve got a wife and sixteen kids,
    I’ve got a wife and—­

Project Gutenberg
If Winter Comes from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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