“Well, now, old man, about Sabre. Well, I tell you it’s a funny business—a dashed funny business, the position old Puzzlehead Sabre has got himself into. Of course you, with your coarse and sordid instincts, will say it’s just what it appears to be and a very old story at that. Whereas to me, with my exquisitely delicate susceptibilities.... No, don’t throw that, old man. Sorry. I’ll be serious. What I want just to kick off with is that you know as well as I do that I’ve never been the sort of chap who wept he knows not why; I’ve never nursed a tame gazelle or any of that sort of stuff. In fact I’ve got about as much sentiment in me as there is in a pound of lard. But when I see this poor beggar Sabre as he is now, and when I hear him talk as he talked to me about his position last week, and when I see how grey and ill he looks, hobbling about on his old stick, well, I tell you, old man, I get—well, look here, here it is from the Let Go.
“Look here, this is April, April, 1918, by all that’s Hunnish—dashed nearly four years of this infernal war. Well, old Sabre got knocked out in France just about five months ago, back in November. He copped it twice—shoulder and knee. Shoulder nothing much; knee pretty bad. Thought they’d have to take his leg off, one time. Thought better of it, thanks be; patched him up; discharged him from the Army; and sent him home—very groggy, only just able to put the bad leg to the ground, crutches, and going to be a stick and a bit of a limp all his life. Poor old Puzzlehead. Think yourself lucky you were a Conscientious Objector, old man.... Oh, damn you, that hurt.
“Very well. That’s as he was when I first saw him again. Just making first attempts in the stick and limp stage, poor beggar. That was back in February. Early in February. Mark the date, as they say in the detective stories. I can’t remember what the date was, but never you mind. You just mark it. Early in February, two months ago. There was good old me down in Tidborough on business—good old me doing the heavy London solicitor in a provincial town—they always put down a red carpet for me at the station, you know; rather decent, don’t you think?—and remembering about old Sabre having been wounded and discharged, blew into Fortune, East and Sabre’s (business wasn’t with them this time) for news of him.
“Of course he wasn’t there. Saw old Fortune and the man Twyning and found them in regard to Sabre about as genial and communicative as a maiden aunt over a married sister’s new dress. Old Fortune looking like a walking pulpit in a thundercloud—I should say he’d make about four of me round the equator; and mind you, a chap stopped me in the street the other day and offered me a job as Beefeater outside a moving-picture show: yes, fact, I was wretchedly annoyed about it—and the man Twyning with a lean and hungry look like Cassius, or was it Judas Iscariot? Well, like Cassius out of a job or Judas Iscariot in the middle of one,