Sabre regarded the broken cup much as Sir Isaac Newton presumably regarded the fallen apple. He “worked back” from the cup through the events of the day, and through the events of the day returned to the cup. It interested him to find that the fragments on the floor were as logical a result of the movements of the day as they would have been of getting the small hand axe out of the woodshed, aiming a blow at the cup, and hitting the cup.
He thought, “I started to break that cup when I rustled the newspaper at breakfast. I went on when I suddenly came back and got into that niggling business over why I had come back. Went on when I walked off to my room after that letter business. Practically took up the axe when I couldn’t say, ‘Well, how’s the Garden Home going on?’ at dinner. And smashed it when I chaffed about Bagshaw an hour ago. Rum business! Rotten business.”
That was the day’s epitaph. But for the murder of the cup he found—gone to bed and lying awake—a culprit other than himself. He thought, “It was meeting Nona made me come home like that. But if that had been the first time I’d ever met Nona I shouldn’t have returned. So it goes back further than that. Nine—ten years. The day she married Tybar. If she hadn’t married Tybar she’d have married me. The cup wouldn’t have been broken. Nona broke that cup.”
These events were on a Monday. On the following Thursday Nona came to see him at his office.
She was announced through the speaking-tube on his desk:
“Lady Tybar to see you, sir.”
Nona! But he was not really surprised. He had taken no notice of her letter. He had wanted to go up to Northrepps to see her, but he had not been. When two days passed and still he prevented himself from going, he began to have the feeling—somehow—that she would come to see him. It was the third day and she was here, downstairs.
“Ask her to come up,” he said.
She came in. She wore (as Sabre saw it) “a pale-blue sort of thing” and “a sort of black hat.” He had considered it as an odd thing, in his thoughts of her since their meeting, that, though he could always have some kind of notion what other women were wearing, he never could remember any detail of Nona’s dress.
But it was her face he always looked at.
She stood still immediately she was across the threshold and the door closed behind her. She was smiling as though she felt herself to be up to some lark. “Hullo, Marko. Don’t you hate me for coming in here like this?”
“It’s jolly surprising.”
“That’s another way of saying it. Now if you’d said it was surprisingly jolly! Well, shake hands, Marko, and pretend you’re glad.”
He laughed and put out his hand. But she delayed response; she first slipped off the gauntlets she was wearing and then gave him her hand. “There!” she said.