“Characteristic, eh? Wasn’t that just exactly old Sabre at school puzzling up his old nut and saying, ‘Yes, but I see what he means’?
“Well, wait a bit. He came to that again afterwards. It seems that, if you please, the very next day the girl herself follows up her letter by walking into the house. Eh? Yes, you can well say ‘By Jove.’ In she walked, baby and all. She’d walked all the way from Tidborough, and God knows how far earlier in the day. Sabre said she was half dead. She’d been to her father’s house, and her father, that terrific-looking old Moses coming down the mountain that I’ve described to you, had turned her out. He’d take her—he had cried over her, the poor crying creature said—if she’d send away her baby, also if she’d say who the father was, but she wouldn’t. ‘I can’t let my little baby go,’ she said. Sabre said it was awful, hearing her. And so he drove her out, the old Moses man did, and the poor soul tried around for a bit—no money—and then trailed out to them.
“Sabre wouldn’t tell me all that happened between his wife and himself. I gather that, in his quiet way, perfectly seeing his wife’s point of view and genuinely deeply distressed at the frightful pitch things were coming to, in that sort of way he nevertheless got his back up against his sense of what he ought to do and said the girl was not to be sent away, that she was to stop.
“His wife said, ‘You’re determined?’
“He said, ‘Mabel’ (that’s her name) ’Mabel, I’m desperately, poignantly sorry, but I’m absolutely determined.’
“She said, ’Very well. If she’s going to be in the house, I’m going out of it. I’m going to my father’s. Now. You’ll not expect the servants to stay in the house while you’ve got this—this woman living with you—’ (Yes, she said that.) ’So I shall pay them up and send them off, now, before I go. Are you still determined?’
“The poor devil, standing there with his stick and his game leg, and his face working, said, ’Mabel, Mabel, believe me, it kills me to say it, but I am, absolutely. The girl’s got no home. She only wants to keep her baby. She must stop.’
“His wife went off to the kitchen.
“Pretty fierce, eh?
“Sabre said he sat where she’d left him, in the morning room in a straight-backed chair, with his legs stuck out in front of him, wrestling with it—like hell. The girl was in the dining room. His wife and the servants were plunging about overhead.
“In about two hours his wife came back dressed to go. She said, ’I’ve packed my boxes. I shall send for them. The maids have packed theirs and they will send. I’ve sent them on to the station in front of me. There’s only one more thing I want to say to you. You say this woman—’ (’This woman, you know!’ old Sabre said when he was telling me.) ’You say this woman has a claim on us?’
“He began, ‘Mabel, I do. I—’
“She said, ’Do you want my answer to that? My answer is that perhaps she has a claim on you!’