Twyning said, “Yes, congratulations again, old man.” He laughed. “You mustn’t think you’re going to have Harold saluting you though, if you ever meet. He’s getting a commission too.” His manner, directly he began to speak of Harold, changed to that enormous affection and admiration for his son which Sabre well remembered on the occasion of Harold joining up. His face shone, his mouth trembled with loving pride at what Harold had been through and what he had done. And he was such a good boy,—wrote twice a week to his mother and once when he was sick in hospital the Padre of his battalion had written to say what a good and sterling boy he was. Yes, he had been recommended for a commission and was coming home that month to a Cadet battalion at Bournemouth.
When Sabre made his congratulations Twyning accompanied him downstairs to the street and warmly shook his hand. “Thanks, old man; thanks most awfully. Yes, he’s everything to me, my Harold. And of course it’s a strain never knowing.... Well, well, he’s in God’s hands; and he’s such a good, earnest boy.”
Extraordinarily different Twyning the father of Harold, and Twyning in daily relations.
His leave drew on. He might get his orders any day now. Mabel was much occupied with her rehearsals. He spent his time in long walks alone and, whenever they were possible, in the old evenings with Mr. Fargus. In Mabel’s absence he and Effie were much thrown together. Mabel frequently came upon them thus together, and when she did she had a mannerism that somehow seemed to suggest “catching” them together. And sometimes she used that expression. It would have been uncommonly jolly to have had Bright Effie as companion on the walks, and once or twice he did. But Mabel showed very clearly that this was very far from having her approval and on the second occasion said so. There was the slightest possible little tiff about it; and thenceforward—the subject having been opened—there were frequent little passages over Effie, arising always out of his doing what Mabel called “forever sticking up for her.” How frequent they were, and how much they annoyed Mabel, he did not realise until, in the last week of his leave, and in the midst of a sticking up for her scene, Mabel surprisingly announced, “Well, anyway I’m sick and tired of the girl, and I’m sick and tired of having you always sticking up for her, and I’m going to get rid of her—to-morrow.”
He said, “To-morrow? How can you? I don’t say it’s not the best thing to do. She’s pretty miserable, I should imagine, the way you’re always picking at her, but you can’t rush her off like that, Mabel.”
“Well, I’m going to. I’m going to pay her up and let her go.”
“But, Mabel—what will her people think?”
“I’m sure I don’t care what they think. If you’re so concerned about the precious girl, I’ll tell her mother that I was going to make other arrangements in any case and that as this was your last week we thought we’d like to be alone together. Will that satisfy you?”