“I tell you, old man, you can think what you like about it, but old Sabre, when he was telling me that, was a pretty first-class advertisement for his own revelation. He’d found it all right. The look on him was nearer the divine than anything I’ve ever come near seeing. It certainly was.
“So you see that was the morning part of this that I’m telling you, what I called the first part, and it was not too bad. He’d been through, he was going through some pretty fierce things, but he was holding up under them. Oh, some pretty fierce things. I haven’t told you half. One thing that hit him hard as he could bear was that that old pal of his, Fungus or Fargus, Fargus as a matter of fact, that old chap fell dying and did die—knocked out by pneumonia special constabling—and those dashed ramping great daughters of his wouldn’t let poor old Sabre into the house to see him. Fact. He said it hurt him worse, made him realise worse what a ban he was up against, than anything that’s happened to him. It would. That chap dying and him too shocking to be admitted.
“They did grant him one squint of his old friend, about five minutes, and stood over him like dragons all the time, five of them. Came to him one morning and said, as though they were speaking to a leper through bars, said, sort of holding their noses, ’We have to ask you to come to see Papa. The doctor thinks there is something Papa wishes to say to you.’
“What it was, apparently, was that the old gentleman had some sort of funny old notion that he was put into life for a definite purpose and when Sabre saw him he could just whisper to Sabre that he was agonised because he was dying before he’d done anything that could possibly be it. Poor old Sabre said it was too terrible for him, because what could he say with that pack of grim daughters standing over him to see he didn’t contaminate their papa on his death bed? He said he could only hold his old pal’s hand, and had the tears running down his face, and couldn’t say a word, and they hustled him out, sort of holding their noses again, and sort of disinfecting the place as they went along. He said to me, brokenly, ’Hapgood, I felt I’d touched bottom. My old friend, you know.’ He said he went again next morning, like a tradesman, just to beg for news. They told him, ‘Papa has passed away.’ He asked them, ‘Did he say anything at the last? Do please tell me just that.’ They said