Again Dick fell, and with difficulty stumbled to his feet. For a moment he swayed as if a heavy gale were blowing against him, and as his face turned towards his comrades they could see his lips parted in a strange smile. Raising his arm like one who is invoking vengeance, he staggered on, and by some miracle reached the very edge of the enemy’s position. There he collapsed, but rising once more, pointed ahead, and lurched forward on his face.
With a roar the American torrent burst its bounds and swept towards the enemy. Selwyn leaped in advance of his men, his voice uttering a long, pulsating cry, like a bloodhound that has found its trail.
He did not see, over towards the centre, that Van Derwater had stopped half-way and had fallen to his knees, both hands covering his eyes.
THE END OF THE ROAD.
One noonday in the November of 1918 a taxi-cab drew up at the Washington Inn, a hostelry erected in St. James’s Square for American officers. An officer emerged, and walking with the aid of a stout Malacca cane, followed his kit into the place.
It was Austin Selwyn, who a few days before had come from France, where he had hovered for a long time in the borderland between life and death. Although he had been severely wounded, it was the nervous strain of the previous four years that told most heavily against him. Week after week he lay, listless and almost unconscious; but gradually youth had reasserted itself, and the lassitude began to disappear with the return of strength. The horrors through which he had passed were softened by the merciful effect of time, and as the reawakened streams of vitality flowed through his veins, his eyes were kindled once more with the magic of alert expression.
Having secured a cubicle and indulged in a light luncheon, he went for a stroll into the street. Looking up, he saw the windows of the rooms where he had spent such lonely, bitter hours crusading against the world’s ignorance. It was all so distant, so far in the past, that it was like returning to a boyhood’s haunt after the lapse of many years.
Going into Pall Mall, he felt a curiosity to see the Royal Automobile Club again. He entered its busy doors, and passing through to the lounge, took a seat in a corner. The place was full of officers, most of them Canadians on leave; but here and there in the huge room he caught a glimpse of sturdy old civilian members, well past the sixty mark, fighting Foch’s amazing victories anew over their port and cigars.