“And Sabre, mind you—this is Sabre’s extraordinary point of view: he’s not a bit furious with all these people. He’s feeling his position most frightfully; it’s eating the very heart out of him, but he’s working up not the least trace of bitterness over it. He says they’re all supporting an absolutely right and just convention, and that it’s not their fault if the convention is so hideously cruel in its application. He says the absolute justice and the frightful cruelty of conventions has always interested him, and that he remembers once putting up to a great friend of his as an example this very instance of society’s attitude towards an unmarried girl who gets into trouble,—never dreaming that one day he was going to find himself up against the full force of it. He said, ’If this poor girl, if any girl, didn’t find the world against her and every door closed to her, just look where you’d be, Hapgood. You’d have morality absolutely gone by the hoard. No, all these people are right, absolutely right—and all conventions are absolutely right—in their principle; it’s their practice that’s sometimes so terrible. And when it is, how can you turn round and rage? I can’t.’
“Well, I said to him what I say to you, old man. I said, ’Yes, that’s all right, Sabre. That’s true, though there’re precious few would take it as moderately as you; but look here, where’s this going to end? Where’s it going to land you? It’s landed you pretty fiercely as it is. Have you thought what it may develop into? What are you doing about it?’
“He said he was writing round, writing to advertisers and to societies and places, to find a place where the girl would be taken in to work and allowed to have her baby with her. He said there must be hundreds of kind-hearted people about the place who would do it; it was only a question of finding them. Well, as to that, kind hearts are more than coronets and all that kind of thing, but it strikes me they’re a jolly side harder than coronets to find when it comes to a question of an unmarried mother and her baby, and when the kind hearts, being found, come to make inquiries and find that the person making application on the girl’s behalf is the man she’s apparently living with, and the man with Sabre’s extraordinary record in regard to the girl. I didn’t say that to poor old Sabre. I hadn’t the face to. But I say it to you. You’re no doubt thinking it for yourself. All that chain of circumstances, eh? Went out of his way to get her her first job. Got her into his house. In a way responsible for her getting the sack. Child born just about when it must have been born after she’d been sacked. Girl coming to him for help. Writing to his wife, ’If only you knew the truth.’ Wife leaving him. Eh? It’s pretty fierce, isn’t it? And I don’t believe he’s got an idea of it. I don’t believe he realises for a moment what an extraordinary coil it all is. God help him if he ever does.... He’ll want it.