Two women appeared.
“Yes, that’s all right. The poor old lady’s brother is coming down. He’ll take charge. I found his name in her papers last night. Telegraphed.” He was looking through the door. “Here’s the answer.”
A telegraph messenger appeared.
He read the telegram. “Yes, that’s all right. He’ll be here by the eleven train at Tidborough. I’ll take Miss Bright now.”
Sabre had the feeling that if he opened the next thought in his mind, an undertaker would rise out of the ground with a coffin. This astonishing man, coming upon his overwrought state, made him feel hysterical. He turned to Effie and gave her both his hands. “The doctor’s taking you, Effie. It’s been dreadful for you. It’s all over now. Try to leave it out of your mind for a bit.”
She smiled sadly. “Good-by, Mr. Sabre. Thank you so much, so very much, for coming and staying. What I should have done without you I daren’t think. I’ve never known any one so good as you’ve been to me.”
“I’ve done nothing, Effie, except feel sorry for you.”
He saw her into the car. No, he would not take a lift.
“Well, leave everything to me,” said the doctor. The chauffeur spoke to him about some engine trouble. “Yes, I’ll see to that. Leave everything to me, Jenkins.”
Even his car!
Sabre, passed on from the ordeal of the night to the ordeal of the day by this interlude of the astonishing doctor, did not know how overwrought he was until he was at home again and come to Mabel seated at breakfast. The thought in his mind as he walked had been the thought in his mind as he had sat on after the death, waiting for morning. After this, after the war had done this, how was he to go on enduring the war and refused part in it? He dreaded meeting Mabel. He dreaded going on to the office and meeting Fortune and Twyning. To none of these people, to no one he could meet, could he explain how he felt about Young Perch and what he had gone through with Mrs. Perch, nor why, because of what he felt, more poignant than ever was his need to get into the war. And yet with these feelings he must go on facing these people and go on meeting the war in every printed page, in every sight, in every conversation. Unbearable! He could not.
Mabel looked up from her breakfast. “Well, I do think—”
This was the beginning of it. He felt himself digging his nails into the palms of his hands. “I’ve been up with old Mrs. Perch—”
“I know you have. I sent around to the Farguses. I must say I do think—”
He felt he could not bear it. “Mabel, look here. For goodness’ sake don’t say you do think I ought to have let you know. I know I ought but I couldn’t. And I’m not in a state to go on niggling about it. Young Perch is killed and his mother’s dead. Now for goodness’ sake, for pity’s sake, let it alone. I couldn’t send and there’s the end of it.”