With which profound thought he drew a long breath of smoke and sent it on the air, to follow his philosophy to whatever place words go to.
‘If Germany and us puts on the gloves,’ ruminated Mathews, ’I’ll be real sorry Mas’r Dick ain’t ’ere. He’s a rare lad, ‘e is—one o’ the right breed, and no argifyin’ can prove contrariwise. I always was fond o’ Mas’r Dick, I was, since ’e was so high, and used to come in ’ere and ask me to learn ’im how to swear proper like a groom. Ah, a fine lad ’e was; and—criky!—’e were a lovely sight on a hoss. Mister Malcolm ’e’s a fine rider hisself, but just a little stiff to my fancy, conseckens o’ sittin’ up on parade with them there Hussars o’ hisn. But Mas’r Dick—he were part o’ the hoss, he were, likewise and sim’lar.’
Selwyn nodded and smoked in silence. He was rather glad to have run into the garrulous groom. The steady stream of inelegant English helped to ease the torture of his mind.
‘Has milord said anything about the hosses, Mr. Selwyn?’
‘No. What do you mean?’
‘Nothing much, sir, excep’ that it’s just what you can expeck from a gen’l’man like him. He comes in ’ere this arternoon and says to me, “Mathews,” he says, “if this ’ere war comes about it’ll be a long one, and make no mistake, so I estermate we’d better give the Government our hosses right away, in course keepin’ old Ned for to drive.” Never twigged an eyelash, he didn’t. No, sir. Just up and tells it to me like I’m a-doin’ to you. “Then,” I says, “you won’t be wanting me no longer, milord?” And he says, “Mathews, as long as there’s a home for me, there’s one for you,” and he clapped me on my shoulder likewise as if him and me were ekals. It kind o’ done me in, it did, what with the prospick o’ losin’ my hosses—them as I’d raised since they was runnin’ around arter their mothers like young galathumpians—and what with his speakin’ so fair and kindly like. Well—criky!—I could ha’ swore; I felt so bad.’
‘It will be a great loss for Lord Durwent to lose his stable.’
‘Ah, that it will. But this arternoon, arter what I’m a-tellin’ you, he just goes through with me and says, “Nell’s lookin’ pretty fit,” or “How’s Prince’s bad knee?” just as if nothink had happened at all. I says to myself, “Milord, you’re a thoroughbred, you are,” for he makes me think o’ Mister Malcolm’s bull-terrier, he do. Breed? That there dog has a ancestry as would do credit to a Egyptian mummy. I’ve seen Mister Malcolm take a whip arter the dog had got among the chickens or took a bite out o’ the game-keeper’s leg, him never liking the game-keeper, conseckens o’ his being bow-legged and having a contrary dispersition, and do you think that there dog would let a whimper out o’ him? No, sir. He would just turn his eye on Mister Malcolm and sorter say, “All right, thrash away. I may hev my little weaknesses, but, thank Gord! I come of a distinkished fam’ly."’