“Home is the sailor,
home from the sea
And the hunter home from the hill.
Or jolly soon will be. And good luck to him. He’s won out.”
Sabre, after Hapgood on the visit on which he had begun “to tell him things”, had left him, was sitting propped up in bed awaiting who next might come. The nurse had told him he was to have visitors that morning. He sat as a man might sit at daybreak, brooding down upon a valley whence slowly the veiling mists dissolved. These many days they had been lifting; there were becoming apparent to him familiar features about the landscape. He was as one returned after long absence to his native village and wondering to find forgotten things again, paths he had walked, scenes he had viewed, places and people left long ago and still enduring here. More than that: he was to go down among them.
The door opened and one came in. Nona.
She said to him, “Marko!”
He had no reply that he could make.
She slipped off a fur that she was wearing and came and sat down beside him. She wore what he would have thought of as a kind of waistcoat thing, cut like his own waistcoats but short; and opened above like a waistcoat but turned back in a white rolled edging, revealing all her throat. She had a little closefitting hat banded with flowers and a loose veil depended from it. She put back the veil. Beauty abode in her face as the scent within the rose, Hapgood had said; and, as perfume deeply inhaled, her serene and tender beauty penetrated Sabre’s senses, propped up, watching her. He had something to say to her.
“How long is it since I have seen you, Nona?”
“It’s a month since I was here, Marko.”
“I don’t remember it.”
“You’ve been very ill; oh, so ill.”
He said slowly, “Yes, I think I’ve been down in a pretty deep place.”
“You’re going to be splendid now, Marko.”
He did not respond to her tone. He said, “I’ve come on a lot in the last few weeks. I’d an idea you’d been about me before that. I’d an idea you’d be coming again. There’s a thing I’ve been thinking out to tell you.”
She breathed, “Yes, tell me, Marko.”
But he did not answer.
She said, “Have you been thinking, in these weeks, while you’ve been coming on, what you are going to do?”
His hands, that had been crumpling up the sheet, were now laid flat before him. His eyes, that had been regarding her, were now averted from her, fixed ahead. “There is nothing I can do, in the way you mean.”
She was silent a little time.
“Marko, we’ve not talked at all about the greatest thing—of course they’ve told you?—the Armistice, the war won. England, your England that you loved so, at peace, victorious; those dark years done. England her own again. Your dear England, Marko.”