And a few lines farther on, “And he’s so splendid. Of course you can imagine how utterly splendid he is. Lady King-Warner, his colonel’s wife, told me yesterday her husband says he’s brave beyond anything she could imagine. He said—she’s given me his letter—’the men have picked up from home this story about angels at Mons and are beginning to believe they saw them. Tybar says he hopes the angels were near him, because he thought he was in hell, the particular bit he got into, and he thinks it must be good for angels, enlarging for their minds, to know what hell is like! As a matter of fact, Tybar himself is nearer to the superhuman than anything I saw knocking about at Mons. His daring and his coolness and his example are a byword in a battalion composed, my dear, with the solitary exception of the writer, entirely of heroes. In sticky places Tybar is the most wonderful thing that ever happened. I like to be near him because his immediate vicinity is unquestionably a charmed circle; and I shudder to be near him because his is always the worst spot.’
“Can’t you imagine him, Marko?”
And always her letters breathed to Sabre his own passionate love of England, his own poignant sense of possession in her and by her, his own intolerable aching at the heart at his envisagement of her enormously beset. They reflected his own frightful oppression and they assuaged it, as his letters, she told him, assuaged hers, as burdens are assuaged by mingling of distress. “There is no good news,” he told her, “and for me who can do nothing—and sometimes things are a little difficult with me here and I suppose that makes it worse—there seems to be no way out. But your letters are more than good news and more than rescue; they are courage. Courage is like love, Nona: it touches the spirit; and the spirit, amazing essence, is like a spring: it is never touched but it—springs!”
She was working daily at a canteen at Victoria station. She had been on the night shift “but I can’t sleep, I simply cannot sleep nowadays”; and so, shortly before he wrote to her of his second rejection, she had changed on to the day shift and at night took out the car to run arriving men from one terminus to another. “And about twice a week I get dog-tired and feel sleepy and send the chauffeur with the car and stay at home and do sleep. It’s splendid!”
Northrepps had been handed over to the Red Cross as a military hospital. Her answer to his letter telling of his second rejection at the recruiting office—most tender words from her heart to his heart, comforting his spirit as transfusion of blood from health to sickness maintains the exhausted body—her reply told him that on that day fortnight she was coming down to say of his disappointment what she could so inadequately express in writing. She was going out to war work in France—in Tony’s name she had presented a fleet of ambulance cars to a Red Cross unit and she was going out to drive one—and she was coming down to look at things at Northrepps before she left.