“Tremendous, eh?” Mr. Fargus used to say. “Terrific. If you hadn’t done that you’d have got it. That one move, all that way back, was calamity. Calamity! What a word!”
And they would stare bemused eyes upon one another.
“You put that into life,” Mr. Fargus used to say. “Imagine if every life, at death, was worked back, and where it went wrong, where it made its calamity, and the date, put on the tombstone. Eh? What a record! Who’d dare walk through a churchyard?”
Sabre’s objection was, “Of course no one would ever know. Suppose your idea’s correct, who’s to say what a man’s purpose in life was, let alone whether he’d fulfilled it? How can you work towards a purpose if you don’t know what it is?”
Then little old Mr. Fargus would grow intense. “Why, Sabre, that’s just where you are with an acrostic or in chess. How can you work out the solution when you don’t know what the solution is?”
“Yes, but you know there is a solution.”
Mr. Fargus’s eyes would shine. “Well, there you are! And you know that in life there is a purpose.”
And what attracted and interested Sabre was that the little man, living here his hunted life among the terrific “doings” of the seven female Farguses, firmly believed that he was working out and working towards his designed purpose. He had “worked back” his every event in life, he said, and it had brought him so inevitably to Penny Green and to skipping about among the seven that he was assured it was the keyed path to his purpose. He amazed Sabre by telling him, without trace of self-consciousness and equally without trace of religious mania, that he was waiting, daily, for God to call upon him to fulfil the purpose for which he was placed there. He expected it as one expects a letter by the post. When he talked about it to Sabre he positively trembled and shone with eagerness as a child trembling and shining with excitement before an unopened parcel.
One day Sabre protested. “But look here, Fargus. Look here, how are you going to know when it comes? It might be anything. You don’t know what it is and—well, you won’t know, will you?”
The little man said, “I believe I shall, Sabre. I’ve ‘worked back’ for years, as far as ever my memory will carry, and everything has been so exactly keyed that I’m convinced I’m in the way of my purpose. I believe you can feel it if you’ve waited for it like that. I believe you’re asked ‘Ready?’ and I want to say, whatever it is, ‘Aye, Ready!’”
Mysterious and awful suggestion, Sabre thought. To believe yourself at any moment to be touched as by a finger and asked “Ready?” “Aye, Ready!”
Mysterious and awful intimacy with God!
And then there were the Perches—“Young Perch and that everlasting old mother of his”, as Mabel called them.