She shook her head. “We sing them every Sunday, of course. But I don’t see how the Psalms—you mean the Bible Psalms, don’t you?—can have anything to do with war.”
“Oh, but they have. They’re absolutely hung full of it. Half of them are the finest battle chants ever written. You ought to read them, Mabel; every one ought to be reading them these days. Well, this verse I’m telling you about. I say, do listen, I won’t keep you a minute. It’s in that one where there comes in a magnificent chant to some princess who was being brought to marriage to some foreign king—”
Mabel’s dispersing attention took arms. “To a princess! However can it be? It’s the Psalms. You do mean the Bible Psalms, don’t you?”
He said quickly, “Oh, well, never mind that. Look here, this is it. I shall say it to myself directly I get in, and then often and often again. It ought to be printed on a card and given to every recruit. Just listen:
“Good luck have
thou with thine honour; ride on, because of the
word of truth, of meekness and of righteousness: and thy right hand
shall show thee terrible things.
“Isn’t that terrific? Isn’t it tremendous? By Jove, it—”
For the first time in her married life she looked at him, in this humour, not distastefully but curiously. His flushed face and shining eyes! Whatever about? He was perfectly incomprehensible to her. She got up. She said, “Yes—but ’Ride on’—of course you’re not going in the cavalry, are you?”
He said, “Oh, well. Sorry. It’s just a thing, you know. Yes, it’s your bedtime, I’m afraid. I’ve kept you up, gassing. Well, dream good luck for me to-morrow.”
His thoughts, when she had gone from the room, went, “A better evening! That’s the way! I can do it, you see, if I try. That other thing doesn’t matter. I was a fool to drag that in. She doesn’t understand. Yes, that’s the way!”
He sat late, happily. If only he could get past the doctor to-morrow!
That’s the way! But on the following evening the way was not to be recaptured. The old way was restored. He was enormously cast down by his rejection. When he got back that night he went straight in to her. “I say, they’ve rejected me. They won’t have me.” His face was working. “It’s that cursed heart.”
She slightly puckered her brows. “Oh—d’you know, for the minute I couldn’t think what on earth you were talking about. Were you rejected? Well, I must say I’m glad. Up at the Knitting League Mrs. Turner was saying her son saw you at the recruiting office after you were rejected and that it was into the ranks you were going. You never told me that. I must say I don’t think you ought to have thought about the ranks without telling me. And I wouldn’t have liked it. I wouldn’t have liked it at all. I think you ought to be very thankful you were rejected. I’m sure I am.”