“Ah, Gracie!” he said, “search if you must, but where will you find bottom? The well is too deep for us. You will come back to God, my child, when you’re tired out; the only rest is there.”
“I don’t want to rest. Some people search all their lives, and die searching. Why shouldn’t I.
“You will be most unhappy, my child.”
“If I’m unhappy, Dad, it’ll be because the world’s unhappy. I don’t believe it ought to be; I think it only is, because it shuts its eyes.”
Pierson got up. “You think I shut my eyes?”
“If I do, it is because there is no other way to happiness.”
“Are you happy; Dad?”
“As happy as my nature will let me be. I miss your mother. If I lose you and Noel—”
“Oh, but we won’t let you!”
Pierson smiled. “My dear,” he said, “I think I have!”
Some wag, with a bit of chalk, had written the word “Peace” on three successive doors of a little street opposite Buckingham Palace.
It caught the eye of Jimmy Fort, limping home to his rooms from a very late discussion at his Club, and twisted his lean shaven lips into a sort of smile. He was one of those rolling-stone Englishmen, whose early lives are spent in all parts of the world, and in all kinds of physical conflict—a man like a hickory stick, tall, thin, bolt-upright, knotty, hard as nails, with a curved fighting back to his head and a straight fighting front to his brown face. His was the type which becomes, in a generation or so, typically Colonial or American; but no one could possibly have taken Jimmy Fort for anything but an Englishman. Though he was nearly forty, there was still something of the boy in his face, something frank and curly-headed, gallant and full of steam, and his small steady grey eyes looked out on life with a sort of combative humour. He was still in uniform, though they had given him up as a bad job after keeping him nine months trying to mend a wounded leg which would never be sound again; and he was now in the War Office in connection with horses, about which he knew. He did not like it, having lived too long with all sorts and conditions of men who were neither English nor official, a combination which he found trying. His life indeed, just now, bored him to distraction, and he would ten times rather have been back in France. This was why he found the word “Peace” so exceptionally tantalising.
Reaching his rooms, he threw off his tunic, to whose stiff regularity he still had a rooted aversion; and, pulling out a pipe, filled it and sat down at his window.