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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.

Several of the younger employees of Fortune, East and Sabre’s joined up (as the current phrase had it) in the first weeks of the war.  In the third month Mr. Fortune assembled the hands and from across the whale-like front indicated the path of duty and announced that the places of all those who followed it would be kept open for them.  “Hear, hear!” said Twyning.  “Hear, hear!” and as the men were filing out he took Sabre affectionately by the arm and explained to him that young Harold was dying to go.  “But I feel a certain duty is due to the firm, old man.  What I mean is, that the boy’s only just come here and I feel that in my position as a partner it wouldn’t look well for me practically with my own hand to be paying out unearned salary to a chap who’d not been four months in the place.  Don’t you agree, old man?”

Sabre said, “But we wouldn’t be paying him, would we?  Fortune said salaries of married men.”

“Ah, yes, old man, but between you and me he’s going to do it for unmarried men as well, as the cases come up.”

“Why didn’t he tell them so?”

Twyning’s genial expression hardened under these questions, but he said, still on his first note of confidential affection, “Ah, because he thinks they ought to do their duty without being bribed.  Quite right, too.  No, it’s a difficult position for me.  My idea is not to give way to the boy’s wishes for a few months while he establishes his position here, and then, if men are still wanted, why of course he’ll go.  Sound, don’t you think, old man?”

Sabre disengaged his arm and turned into his own room.  “Well, I think this is a business in which you can’t judge any one.  I think every man is his own judge.”

An astonishing rasp came into Twyning’s voice.  “How old are you?”

“Thirty-six.  Why?”

Twyning laughed away the rasp.  “Ah, I’m older.  I daresay you’ll have a chance later on, if the Times and the Morning Post and those class papers have their way.  And you’ve got no family, have you, old man?”

III

That was in the third month of the war.  But by June, 1915, the position on these little points had hardened.  In June, “Why aren’t you in khaki?” was blowing about the streets.  Questions looked out of eyes.  Certain men avoided one another.  And in June young Harold joined up.  Sabre greeted the news with very great warmth.  Towards Harold he had none of the antipathy that was often aroused in him by Harold’s father.  He shook the good-looking young man very heartily by the hand.  “By Jove, I’m glad.  Well done, Harold.  That’s splendid.  Jolly good luck to you.”

Later in the morning Twyning came in.  He entered abruptly.  His air, and when he spoke, his manner, struck Sabre as being deliberately aggressive.  “Well, Harold’s gone,” he said.

“Yes, I’m jolly glad for the boy’s sake.  I was just congratulating him.  I think it’s splendid of him.”

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