brought with it; spurred too, perhaps, by an after-dinner
demon. The cafe was the bier-halle of the ’Fifties,
with a door at either end, and lighted by a large
wooden lantern. On a small dais three musicians
were fiddling. Solitary men, or groups, sat at
some dozen tables, and the waiters hurried about replenishing
glasses; the air was thick with smoke. Swithin
sat down. “Wine!” he said sternly.
The astonished waiter brought him wine. Swithin
pointed to a beer glass on the table. “Here!”
he said, with the same ferocity. The waiter poured
out the wine. ‘Ah!’ thought Swithin,
‘they can understand if they like.’
A group of officers close by were laughing; Swithin
stared at them uneasily. A hollow cough sounded
almost in his ear. To his left a man sat reading,
with his elbows on the corners of a journal, and his
gaunt shoulders raised almost to his eyes. He
had a thin, long nose, broadening suddenly at the
nostrils; a black-brown beard, spread in a savage
fan over his chest; what was visible of the face was
the colour of old parchment. A strange, wild,
haughty-looking creature! Swithin observed his
clothes with some displeasure—they were
the clothes of a journalist or strolling actor.
And yet he was impressed. This was singular.
How could he be impressed by a fellow in such clothes!
The man reached out a hand, covered with black hairs,
and took up a tumbler that contained a dark-coloured
fluid. ‘Brandy!’ thought Swithin.
The crash of a falling chair startled him—his
neighbour had risen. He was of immense height,
and very thin; his great beard seemed to splash away
from his mouth; he was glaring at the group of officers,
and speaking. Swithin made out two words:
“Hunde! Deutsche Hunde!” ’Hounds!
Dutch hounds!’ he thought: ‘Rather
strong!’ One of the officers had jumped up,
and now drew his sword. The tall man swung his
chair up, and brought it down with a thud. Everybody
round started up and closed on him. The tall
man cried out, “To me, Magyars!”
Swithin grinned. The tall man fighting such
odds excited his unwilling admiration; he had a momentary
impulse to go to his assistance. ’Only
get a broken nose!’ he thought, and looked for
a safe corner. But at that moment a thrown lemon
struck him on the jaw. He jumped out of his
chair and rushed at the officers. The Hungarian,
swinging his chair, threw him a look of gratitude—Swithin
glowed with momentary admiration of himself.
A sword blade grazed his—arm; he felt a
sudden dislike of the Hungarian. ‘This
is too much,’ he thought, and, catching up a
chair, flung it at the wooden lantern. There
was a crash—faces and swords vanished.
He struck a match, and by the light of it bolted for
the door. A second later he was in the street.
A voice said in English, “God bless you, brother!”
Swithin looked round, and saw the tall Hungarian holding
out his hand. He took it, thinking, ‘What
a fool I’ve been!’ There was something
in the Hungarian’s gesture which said, “You
are worthy of me!”