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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.

The fountain pen made a note.  “Get off.”

He could have shouted aloud.  He thought, “By God!”

In the dressing room a sergeant bawled, “All recruits!”—­paused and glared about the room and drew breath for further discharge.  This mannerism Sabre was also to become accustomed to:  in the Army, always “the cautionary word” first when an order was given.  The sergeant then discharged:  “All recruits past the doctor proceed to the room under this for swearing in.  When sworn, to office adjoining for pay, card and armlet.  And get a move on with it!”

VIII

The most stupendously elated man in all England was presently riding to Penny Green on Sabre’s bicycle.  On his arm blazed the khaki brassard, in the breast pocket of his waistcoat, specially cleared to give private accommodation to so glorious a prize, were a half-crown and two pennies, the most thrillingly magnificent sum he had ever earned,—­his army pay.  His singing thought was, “I’m in the Army!  I’m in the Army!  I don’t care for anything now.  By gad, I can’t believe it.  I’m in the war at last!” His terrific thought was, “Good luck have thee with thine honour; ride on ... and thy right hand shall show thee terrible things.”

He burst into the house and discharged the torrent of his elation on to Mabel.  “I say, I’m in the Army.  They’ve passed me.  Look here!  Look at my Derby armlet!  And look at this.  That’s my pay!  Just look, Mabel—­two and eightpence.”

He extended the coins to her in his hand.  “Look!”

She gave her sudden burst of laughter.  “How perfectly ridiculous!  Two and eightpence!  Whyever did you take it?”

“Take it?  Why, it’s my pay.  My army pay.  I’ve never been so proud of anything in my life.  I’ll keep these coins forever.  Where shall I put them?” He looked around for a shrine worthy enough.  “No, I can’t put them anywhere yet.  I want to keep looking at them.  I say, you’re glad I’m in, aren’t you?  Do say something.”

She gave her laugh.  “But you’re not in.  You do get so fearfully excited.  After all, it’s only this Lord Derby thing where they call the men up in age classes, the papers say.  Yours can’t come for months.  You may not go at all.”

He dropped the coins slowly into his pocket,—­chink, chink, chink.  “Oh, well, if that’s all you’ve got to say about it.”

“Well, what do you expect?  You just come rushing in and telling me without ever having said a word that you were going.  And for that matter you seem to forget the extraordinary way in which you went off this morning.  I haven’t.”

“I had forgotten.  I was upset.  I went off, I know; but I don’t remember—­”

“No, you only swore at me; that’s all.”

“Mabel, I’m sure I didn’t.”

“You bawled out, ‘For God’s sake.’  I call that swearing.  I don’t mind.  It’s not particularly nice for the servants to hear, but I’m not saying anything about that.”

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