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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.

Twyning spun around from the bookcase and came forward.  “Eh?  Sorry, I’m afraid I wasn’t listening.”

“Our excellent Sabre has offered himself for enlistment and been rejected.”

Twyning said, “Have you, by Jove!  Jolly good.  What bad luck being turned down.  What was it?”

Sabre moved across to his room.  “Heart.”

“Was it, really?  By Jove, and you look fit enough, too, old man.  Fancy, heart!  Fancy—­Jolly sporting of you.  Fancy—­Oh, I say, old man, do let’s have a look at your paper if you’ve got it on you.  I want to see one of those things.”

Sabre was at his door.  “What paper?”

“Your rejection paper, old man.  I’ve never seen one.  Only if you’ve got it on you.”

“I haven’t got one.”

“Not got one!  You must have, old man.”

“Well, I haven’t.  I was seen privately.  I’m rather friendly with them up at the barracks.”

“Oh, yes, of course.  Wonder they didn’t give you a paper, though.”

“Well, they didn’t.”

“Quite so, old man.  Quite so.  Funny, that’s all.”

Sabre paused on the threshold.  He perfectly well understood the villainous implication.  Vile, intolerable!  But of what service to take it up?—­To hear Twyning’s laugh and his “My dear old chap, as if I should think such a thing!” He passed into his room.  The thought he had had which had arrested his anger at Mr. Fortune’s hints, revealing this incident in another light, was, “They want to get rid of me.”

V

In August, the anniversary month of the war, he again offered himself for enlistment and was again rejected, but this time after a longer scrutiny:  the standard was not at its first height of perfection.  Earnshaw, Colonel Rattray, all the remnant of his former friends, were gone to the front:  Sabre submitted himself through the ordinary channels and this time received what Twyning had called his “paper.”  He did not show it to Twyning, nor mention either to him or to Mr. Fortune that he had tried again.  “Again! most creditable of you, my dear Sabre.”  “Again, have you, though?  By Jove, that’s sporting of you.  Did they give you a paper this time, old man?” No.  Not much.  Feeling as he felt about the war, acutely aware as he was of the partners’ interest in the matter, that, he felt, could not be borne.

But on this occasion he told Mabel.

The war had not altered his relations with Mabel.  He had had the feeling that it ought to bring them closer together, to make her more susceptible to his attempts to do the right thing by her.  But it did not bring them closer together:  the accumulating months, the imperceptibly increasing strangeness and tension and high pitch of the war atmosphere increased, rather, her susceptibility to those characteristics of his which were most impossible to her.  He felt things with draught too deep and with burthen

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