He had been ticking these points off on his fingers, much astonishing Sabre by his marshalling of scattered incidents that had been merely rather pleasing newspaper sensations of a couple of days. He presented the ticked-off fingers bunched up together. “There, there’s concrete facts for you, Sabre. Can you say things aren’t tightening up? Why, if war—when war comes people will look back on this year, 1912, and wonder where in hell their eyes were that they didn’t see it. What are they seeing?—” He threw his fingers apart. “None of these things. Not one. All this doctors and the Insurance Bill tripe, Marconi Inquiry, Titanic, Suffragettes smashing up the West End, burning down Lulu Harcourt’s place, trying to roast old Asquith in the Dublin Theatre, Seddon murder, this triangular cricket show. Hell’s own excitement because there’s so much rain in August and people in Norwich have to go about in boats, and then hell’s own hullaballoo because there’s no rain for twenty-two days in September and people get so dry they can’t spit or something.” His keen face wrinkled up into laughter. “Eh, didn’t you read that?” He laughed but was immediately intense again. “That’s all that really interests the people. By God, they’ll sit up and take notice of the real stuff one of these days. Pretty soon. Tightening up, I tell you. Well, I’m off, Sabre. When are you coming up to the Mess again? Friday? Well, guest night the week after. I’ll drop you a line. So long.” He was off, carrying his straight back alertly up the street.
His going was somehow as sudden and startling as his appearance had been sudden and tumultuous. He had carried away Sabre’s thoughts as a jet from a hosepipe will spin a man out of a crowd; smashed into his preoccupation as a stone smashing through a window upon one deep in study; galloped across his mind as a cavalcade thundering through a village street,—and the effect of it, and the incongruity of it as, getting his bicycle from the office, he rode homewards, kept returning to Sabre’s mind, as an arresting dream will constantly break across daylight thoughts.