Extraordinary that such a stern and hard old man should have for daughter such a fresh and lovable slip of a young thing as his Effie! Bright Effie, Sabre always called her, inverting her names. Mr. Bright had a little cupboard called his office at the foot of the main stairway and Bright Effie came often to see her father there. Sabre had spoken to her in the little cupboard or just outside it. He had delight in watching the most extraordinary shining that she had in her eyes. It was like reading an entertaining book, he used to think, and he had the idea that humor of that rarest kind which is unbounded love mingled with unbounded sense of the oddities of life was packed to bursting within her. All that she saw or heard seemed to be taken into that exhaustless fount, metamorphosed into the most delicious sensations, and shone forth in extraordinarily humorous delight through her eyes. Somewhere in the dullest day light is found and thrown back by a bright surface. It was just so, Sabre used to think, with Effie. All things were fresh to her and she found freshness in all things.
Some such apprehension of her Sabre had expressed to Twyning on the occasion that came to his mind during young Perch’s entreaty for some one to live with his mother. Sabre had been standing with Twyning at Mr. Fortune’s window, Mr. Bright and Effie leaving the office and crossing the street together beneath them. Twyning, who was on intimate terms with Mr. Bright, had given a short laugh and said, “Hullo, you seem to have been thinking a lot about the fair Effie!”
The kind of laugh and the kind of remark that Sabre hated and he gave a slight gesture which Twyning well knew meant that he hated it. This was what Twyning called “stuck-uppishness” and equally hated, and he chose words expressive of his resentment,—the class insistence.
“Well, she’s got to earn her living, however jolly she is. She’s not one of your fine ladies, you know.”
Sabre recognised the implication but ignored it. “What’s old Bright going to do with her?”
“He doesn’t quite know. He was talking to my missus about it the other day. He’s as good as we are, you know. He’s an idea of getting her out as a sort of lady’s companion somewhere.”
This was what Sabre had remembered; and he went straight from young Perch to Twyning and recalled the conversation.
Twyning said, “Hullo, still interested in the fair Effie?”
“It’s for young Perch over at Penny Green I’m asking. For his mother. He’s a young man”—Sabre permitted his eyes to rest for a moment on Harold, seated at his desk—“and he feels he ought to join the army. He wants the girl to be with his mother while he’s away.”
Twyning, noting the glance, changed his tone to one of much friendliness. “Oh, I see, old man. No, Effie’s got nothing yet. She was over to our place to tea last Sunday.”
“Good. I’ll go and talk to old Bright. I’m keen about this.”