He said flatly, “Why are you? Thankful—good lord—you don’t know—what do you mean, I ought to be thankful?”
“Because you ought to be an officer, if you go at all. It’s not the place for you in your position. And apart from anything else—” She gave her sudden burst of laughter.
He felt arise within him violent and horrible feelings about her. “What are you laughing at?”
“Well, do just imagine what you’d look like in private soldier’s clothing!” She laughed very heartily again.
He turned away.
Up in his room he began a long letter to Nona, pouring out to her all his feelings about this second rejection. He was writing to her—and hearing from her—regularly and frequently now. It was his only vent in the oppression of these frightful days. She said that it was hers, too.
After that letter of hers, at the outbreak of the war, in which she had said that she thanked God for him that he had delayed her decision to unchain their chains and to join their lives, no further reference had been made by either to that near touch of desire’s wand. It was, as he had said it should be, as though her letter had never been written. And in her letters she always mentioned Tony. She wrote to Tony every day, she told him; and there were few of her letters but mentioned a parcel of some kind sent to her husband. Tony never wrote. Sometimes, she said, there came a scrap from him relative to some business matter she must see to; but never any response to her daily budget of gossip—“the kind of news I know he likes to hear”—or any news of himself and his doings.
She once or twice said, without any comment, “But he is writing often to Mrs. Stanley and Lady Grace Heddon and Sophie Basildon and I hear bits of him from them and know he is keeping well. Of course, I pretend to them that their news is stale to me.” Another time, “I’ve just finished my budget to Tony,” she wrote, “and have sent him two sets of those patent rubber soles for his boots. Do you think he can get them put on? Every day I try to think of some new trifle he’d like; and you’d be shocked, and think I care nothing about the war, at the number of theatres I make time to go to. You see, it makes something bright and amusing to tell him, describing the plays. I feel most frightfully that, although of course my canteen work is useful, the real best thing every woman can do in this frightful time is to do all she can for her man out there; and Tony’s mine. When this is all over—oh, Marko, is it ever going to be over?—things will hurt again; but while he’s out there the old things are dead and Tony’s mine and England’s—my man for England: that is my thought; that is my pride; that is my prayer.”