He hated it. He said nothing, but it was often on the tip of his tongue to say something, and he showed that he intensely disliked it, and he knew that Mabel knew he disliked it. On the whole it was rather a relief when the three days were up and he went down to the Cadet battalion at Cambridge.
In March he came back, a second lieutenant; and immediately, when in time to come he looked back, things set in train for that ultimate encounter with life which was awaiting him.
The projected visit to town did not come off. While he was at Cambridge Mabel wrote to say that the Garden Home Amateur Dramatic Society was going to do “His Excellency The Governor” in aid of the Red Cross funds at the end of March. She was taking part, she was fearfully excited about it, and as rehearsals began early in the month she naturally could not be away. She was sure he would understand and would not mind.
He did not mind in the least. They were years past the stage when it would have so much as crossed his mind that she might give up this engagement for the sake of spending his leave on a bit of gaiety in town; he had only suggested the idea on her account; personally he much preferred the prospect of doing long walks about his beloved countryside now passing into spring.
Arriving, he began at once to do so. He went over for one visit to the office at Tidborough. Not so much enthusiasm greeted him as to encourage a second. Twyning and Mr. Fortune were immersed in adapting the workshops to war work for the Government. Normal business was coming to a standstill. Now Twyning had conceived the immense, patriotic, and profitable idea of making aeroplane parts, and it was made sufficiently clear to Sabre that, so long away and immediately to be off again, there could be no interest for him in the enterprise.
“You won’t want to go into all we are doing, my dear fellow,” said Mr. Fortune. “Your hard-earned leave, eh? We mustn’t expect you to give it up to business, eh, Twyning?”
And Twyning responded, “No, no, old man. Not likely, old man. Well, it’s jolly to see you in the office again”; and he looked at his watch and said a word to Mr. Fortune about “Meeting that man” with an air which quite clearly informed Sabre that it would be jollier still to see him put on his cap and walk out of the office again.
Well, it was only what he had expected; a trifle pronounced, perhaps, but the obvious sequel to their latter-day manner towards him: they had wanted to get him out; he was out and they desired to keep him out.
He rose to go. “Oh, that’s all right. I’m not going to keep you. I only called in to show off my officer’s uniform.”