And it was when, in thought or fleeting action, he came in touch with that old, waiting identity, that there happened the things that seemed transient as falling stars but moved into his horoscope as planets,—and remained.
He first went to France, in one of the long string of Service battalions that had sprung out of the Pinks, in the June following his enlistment. Mabel had not wished to make any change in her manner of life while he was still in England in training and she did not wish to when, at home three days on his draft leave, he discussed it with her. She much preferred, she said, to go on living in her own home. She was altogether against any idea of going to be with her father at Tidborough, and there was no cousin “or anybody like that” (her two sisters were married and had homes of their own) that she would care to have in the house with her. Relations were all very well in their right place but sharing the house with you was not their right place. She had plenty to do with her war work and one thing and another; if, in the matter of obviating loneliness, she did make any change at all, it might be to get some sort of paid companion: if you had any one permanently in the house it was much better to have some one in a dependent position, not as your equal, upsetting things.
The whole of these considerations were advanced again in a letter which Sabre received in July and which gave him great pleasure. Mabel had decided to get a paid companion—it was rather lonely in some ways—and she had arranged to have “that girl, Miss Bright.” Sabre, reading, exclaimed aloud, “By Jove, that’s good. I am glad.” And he thought, “Jolly little Effie! That’s splendid.” He somehow liked immensely the idea of imagining Bright Effie about the house. He thought, “I wish she could have been in long ago, when I was there. It would have made a difference. Some one between us. We used to work on one another’s nerves. That was our trouble. Pretty little Effie! How jolly it would have been! Like a jolly little sister.”
He puckered his brows a little as he read on to Mabel’s further reflections on the new enterprise: “Of course she’s not our class but she’s quite ladylike and on the whole I think it just as well not to have a lady. It might be very difficult sometimes to give orders to any one of one’s own standing.”
He didn’t quite like that; but after all it was only just Mabel’s way of looking at things. It was the jolliest possible idea. He wrote back enthusiastically about it and always after Effie was installed inquired after her in his letters.
But Mabel did not reply to these inquiries.