He bore a certain resemblance to a stunted whale. He was chiefly abdominal. His legs appeared to begin, without thighs, at his knees, and his face, without neck, at his chest. His face was large, both wide and long, and covered as to its lower part with a tough scrub of grey beard. The line of his mouth showed through the scrub and turned extravagantly downwards at the corners. He had a commanding, heavily knobbed brow, and small grey eyes of intense severity. His voice was cold, and his manner, though intensely polished and suave, singularly stern and decisive. He had an expression of “I have decided” and Sabre said that he kept this expression on ice. It had an icy sound and it certainly had the rigidity and imperviousness of an iceberg. Hearing it, one might believe that it could have a cruel sound.
The Reverend Sebastian Fortune had come into the business at the age of twenty-eight. He was now sixty-two. He had come in to find the controlling interest almost entirely in the hands of the Fortune branch of the firm, and in his thirty-four years of association, indeed in the first twenty, he had, by fortuitous circumstances, and by force of his decisive personality, achieved what amounted to sole and single control. Coming in as a young man of force and character, he had added to these qualities, by marriage, a useful sum of money (to which was attached a widow) and proceeded to deal decisively with the East and the Sabre (Mark Sabre’s grandfather) of that day. Both were old men. The East, young Mr. Fortune bought out neck and crop. The Sabre, who owned then a fifth instead of a third interest in the business, and had developed, as an obsession, an unreasonable fear of bankruptcy, he relieved of all liability for the firm at the negligible cost of giving himself a free hand in the conduct of the business. The deed of partnership was altered accordingly. It was to this fifth share, without control, that Sabre’s father and, in his turn, Sabre succeeded.