“No, I didn’t say a word like that to him. I couldn’t. The nearest I got to it was I said, ’Well, but time’s getting on, you know, old man. It’s a—a funny position on the face of it. What do you suppose your wife’s thinking all this time?’
“He said his wife would be absolutely all right once he’d found a home for the girl and sent her away. He said his wife was always a bit sharp in her views of things, but that she’d be all right when it was all over.
“I said, ‘H’m. Heard from her?’
“He had—once. He showed me the letter. Well, you know, old man, every fox knows what foxes smell like; and I smelt a dear brother solicitor’s smell in that letter. Smelt it strong. Asking him to make a home possible for her to return to so they might resume their life together. I recognised it. I’ve dictated dozens.
“I handed it back. I said, ‘H’m’ again. I said, ’H’m, you remember, old man, there was that remark of hers just as she was leaving you—that remark that perhaps the girl might have a claim on you. Remember that, don’t you?’
“By Jove, I thought for a minute he was going to flare up and let me have it. But he laughed instead. Laughed as if I was a fool and said, ’Oh, good Lord, man, that’s utterly ridiculous. That was only just my wife’s way. My wife’s got plenty of faults to find with me—but that kind of thing! Man alive, with all my faults, my wife knows me.’
“Perhaps—I say, my holy aunt, it’s nearly two o’clock! Come on, I’m for bed. Perhaps his wife does know him. What I’m thinking is, does he know his wife? I’m a solicitor. I know what I’d say if she came to me.”
On a day a month later—in May—Hapgood said:
“Now, I’ll tell you. Old Sabre—by Jove, it’s frightful. He’s crashed. The roof’s fallen in on him. He’s nearly out of his mind. I don’t like it. I don’t like it a bit. I’ve only just left him. Here, in London. A couple of hours ago. I oughtn’t to have left him. The chap’s not fit to be left. But I had to. He cleared me off. I had to go. He wasn’t in a state to be argued with. I was frightened of irritating him. To tell you the truth, I’m frightened now about him. Dead frightened.
“Look here, it’s in two parts, this sudden development. Two parts as I saw it. Begins all right and then works up. Two parts—morning and afternoon yesterday and a bit to-day. And of all extraordinary places to happen at—Brighton.
“Yes, Brighton. I was down there for a Saturday to Monday with my Missus. This absolutely topping weather, you know. We were coming back Monday evening. Yesterday. Very well. Monday morning we were sunning on the pier, she and I. I was reading the paper, she was watching the people and making remarks about them. If Paradise is doing in the next world what you best liked doing in this, my wife will ask Peter if she can sit at the gate and watch the demobilised souls arriving and pass remarks about them. She certainly will.