As the old man took his departure, Nicky-Nan broke the seal of his letter, opened it, and read—
To Nicholas Nanjivell,
Troy, August 3rd, 1914.
I am advised that you have failed to join the Royal Naval Reserve Force called into Active Service under the Act 22 and 23 Vict. c. 40; nor have you reported yourself at the Custom-House, St Martin’s, Cornwall, as required on the Active Service Paper, R.V. 53, duly delivered to you.
Before filling up your description on Form R.V. 26a (R.N.R. Absentees and Deserters) I desire that you will let me know the cause of your non-compliance with H.M. summons; and, if the cause be sickness or other disablement, that you will forward a medical certificate immediately, as evidence of same, to
Registrar, Royal Naval Reserve.
BUSINESS AS USUAL.
“Business as usual!” said Mr Pamphlett heartily to his clerk Mr Hendy, as he let himself in at 9.40 by the side door of the Bank. Mr Hendy lived on the premises, which his wife served as caretaker, with a “help” to do the scrubbing.
Mr Hendy, always punctual, stood ready in the passage, awaiting his master. He received Mr Pamphlett’s top-hat and walking-stick, helped him off with his black frock-coat, helped him on with the light alpaca jacket in which during the hot weather Mr Pamphlett combined banking with comfort.
“Business as usual!” said Mr Pamphlett, slipping into the alpaca. “That’s the motto. Old England’s sound, Hendy!”
“Yes, sir: leastways, I hope so.”
“Sound as a bell. It’s money will put us through this, Hendy, as it always has. We mayn’t wear uniforms”—Mr Pamphlett smoothed down the alpaca over his stomach—“but we’re the real sinews of this War.”
Mr Hendy—a slight middle-aged man, with fluffy straw-coloured hair which he grew long above his ears, to compensate for the baldness of his cranium—answered that he was glad Mr Pamphlett took it in so hearty a fashion, but for his part, if it wasn’t for the Missus, he was dying to enlist and have a slap at the Germans. Mr Pamphlett laughed and entered his private office. Here every morning he dealt with his correspondence; while Hendy, in the main room of the Bank, unlocked the safe, fetched out the ready cash and the ledgers, and generally made preparations before opening the door for business on the stroke of ten.
Five or six letters awaited Mr Pamphlett. One he recognised by envelope and handwriting as a missive from headquarters: and he opened it first, wondering a little, pausing, as he broke the seal, to examine the post-marks. “Yesterday had been Bank Holiday. . . . But, to be sure, in these times the Head Office would very likely be neglecting Bank Holidays, the clerks working at high pressure. . . .”