“Sane as you or me,” said the doctor. “A little pedantic in his way of expressing himself, but quite all there, really.”
“Did his dog bite you?” muttered the nephew. “No,” said the doctor absently. “I wish to heaven everyone held his views. So long. I must be getting on.” And they parted.
But Mr. Lavender, after pacing the room six times, had sat down again in his chair, with a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach, such as other men feel on mornings after a debauch.
ADDRESSES SOME SOLDIERS ON THEIR FUTURE
On pleasant afternoons Mr. Lavender would often take his seat on one of the benches which adorned the Spaniard’s Road to enjoy the beams of the sun and the towers of the City confused in smoky distance. And strolling forth with Blink on the afternoon of the day on which the doctor had come to see him he sat down to read a periodical, which enjoined on everyone the necessity of taking the utmost interest in soldiers disabled by the war. “Yes,” he thought, “it is indeed our duty to force them, no matter what their disablements, to continue and surpass the heroism they displayed out there, and become superior to what they once were.” And it seemed to him a distinct dispensation of Providence when the rest of his bench was suddenly occupied by three soldiers in the blue garments and red ties of hospital life. They had been sitting there for some minutes, divided by the iron bars necessary to the morals of the neighbourhood, while Mr. Lavender cudgelled his brains for an easy and natural method of approach, before Blink supplied the necessary avenue by taking her stand before a soldier and looking up into his eye.
“Lord!” said the one thus accosted, “what a fyce! Look at her moustache! Well, cocky, ‘oo are you starin’ at?”
“My dog,” said Mr. Lavender, perceiving his chance, “has an eye for the strange and beautiful.
“Wow said the soldier, whose face was bandaged, she’ll get it ’ere, won’t she?”
Encouraged by the smiles of the soldier and his comrades, Mr. Lavender went on in the most natural voice he could assume.
“I’m sure you appreciate, my friends, the enormous importance of your own futures?”
The three soldiers, whose faces were all bandaged, looked as surprised as they could between them, and did not answer. Mr. Lavender went on, dropping unconsciously into the diction of the article he had been reading: “We are now at the turning-point of the ways, and not a moment is to be lost in impressing on the disabled man the paramount necessity of becoming again the captain of his soul. He who was a hero in the field must again lead us in those qualities of enterprise and endurance which have made him the admiration of the world.”