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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.
too capacious for the navigability of her mind; and here was an ever-present thing, this (in her phrase) most unsettling war, which must be taken (in her view) on a high, brisk note that was as impossible to him as was his own attitude towards the war to her.  The effect of the war, in this result, was but to sunder them on a new dimension:  whereas formerly he had learned not to join with her on subjects his feelings about which he had been taught to shrink from exposing before her, now the world contained but one subject; there was no choice and there was no upshot but clash of incompatibility.  His feelings were daily forced to the ordeal; his ideas daily exasperated her.  The path he had set himself was not to mind her abuse of his feelings, and he tried with some success not to mind; but (in his own expression, brooding in his mind’s solitude) they riled her and he had nothing else to offer her; they riled her and he had set himself not to rile her.  It was like desiring to ease a querulous invalid and having in the dispensary but a single—­and a detested—­palliative.

Things were not better; they were worse.—­But he made his efforts.  The matter of telling her (when he tried in August) that he thought he ought to join the Army was one, and it came nearest to establishing pleasant relations.  That it revealed a profound difference of sensibility was nothing.  He blamed himself for causing that side to appear.

Her comment when, on the eve of his attempt, he rather diffidently acquainted her with his intention, was, “Do you really think you ought to?” This was not enthusiastic; but he went ahead with it and made a joke, which amused her, about how funny it would be if she had to start making “comforts” for him at the War Knitting League which she was attending with great energy at the Garden Home.  He found, as they talked, that it never occurred to her but that it was as an officer that he would be going, and something warned him not to correct her assumption.  He found with pleased surprise quite a friendly chat afoot between them.  She only began to fall away in interest when he, made forgetful by this new quality in their contact, allowed his deeper feelings to find voice.  Once started, he was away before he had realised it, in how one couldn’t help feeling about England and how utterly glorious would be his own sensations if he could actually get into uniform and feel that England had admitted him to be a part of her.

She looked at the clock.

His face was reddening in its customary signal of his enthusiasm.  He noticed her glance, but was not altogether checked.  He went on quickly, “Well, look here.  I must tell you this.  I’ll tell you what I’ll say to myself first thing if I really do get in.  A thing out of the Psalms.  By Jove, an absolutely terrific thing, Mabel.  In the Forty-fifth.  Has old Bag—­has Boom Bagshaw told you people up at the church what absolutely magnificent reading the Psalms are just now, in this war?”

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