“Well, that was the morning, old man. That was the first part, and you see how it went. He was pretty badly in the depths but he was holding on. He’d got this great discovery of his, and the idea of writing about it after his History, he said. ’If I’m ever able to take up my History again,’ he said. Badly down as he was, at least he’d got that and he’d also got to help him the extraordinary, reasonable, reasoning view he took of the whole business: no bitterness against any one, just understanding their point of view as he always has understood the other point of view, just that and puzzling over it all. On the whole, and considering all things, not too bad. Not too bad. Bad, desperately pathetic, I thought, but not too bad. That was the morning. He wouldn’t come to lunch with us. He hadn’t liked meeting my wife as it was. And of course I could understand how he felt, poor chap. So I left him.
“I left him. When I saw him again was about three o’clock, and I walked right into the middle of the development that, as I told you, has pretty well let the roof down on him.
“I strolled round to his hotel, a one-horse sort of place off the front. He was in the lobby. No one else there. Only a man who’d just been speaking to him and who left him and went out as I came in.
“Sabre had two papers in his hands. He was staring at them and you’d ha’ thought from his face he was staring at a ghost. What d’you think they were? Guess. Man alive, the chap I’d seen going out had just served them on him. They were divorce papers. The citation and petition papers that have to be served personally. Divorce papers. His wife had instituted divorce proceedings against him. Naming the girl, Effie.
“Yes, you can whistle....
“You can whistle. I couldn’t. I had too much to do. He was knocked out. Right out. I got him up to his room. Tried to stuff a drink into him. Couldn’t. Stuffed it into myself. Two. Wanted them pretty badly.
“Well—I tell you. It was pretty awful. He sat on the bed with the papers in his hand, gibbering. Just gibbering. No other word for it. Was his wife mad? Was she crazy? Had she gone out of her mind? He to be guilty of a thing like that? He capable of a beastly thing like that? She to believe, she to believe he was that? His wife? Mabel?