Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works eBook

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“Dear me,” said Mr. Lavender, as with a certain dignity they both rose to their full height, “I had no conception——­”

Without a word, the young woman put her hand up to her back hair, sidled swiftly down the row of chairs, ran down the aisle, and vanished.  There was no one else in the chapel.  Mr. Lavender, after surveying the considerable wreckage, made his way to the door and passed out into the night.  “Like a dream,” he thought; “but I have done my duty, for no meeting was ever more completely broken up.  With a clear conscience and a good appetite I can how go home.”



Greatly cheered by his success at the Peace meeting, Mr. Lavender searched his papers next morning to find a new field for his activities; nor had he to read far before he came on this paragraph: 

   “Everything is dependent on transport, and we cannot sufficiently
   urge that this should be speeded up by
   every means in our power.”

“How true!” he thought.  And, finishing his breakfast hastily, he went out with Blink to think over what he could do to help.  “I can exhort,” he mused, “anyone engaged in transport who is not exerting himself to the utmost.  It will not be pleasant to do so, for it will certainly provoke much ill-feeling.  I must not, however, be deterred by that, for it is the daily concomitant of public life, and hard words break no bones, as they say, but rather serve to thicken the skins and sharpen the tongues of us public men, so that, we are able to meet our opponents with their own weapons.  I perceive before me, indeed, a liberal education in just those public qualities wherein I am conscious of being as yet deficient.”  And his heart sank within him, thinking of the carts on the hills of Hampstead and the boys who drove them.  “What is lacking to them,” he mused, “is the power of seeing this problem steadily and seeing it whole.  Let me endeavour to impart this habit to all who have any connection with transport.”

He had just completed this reflection when, turning a corner, he came on a large van standing stockstill at the top of an incline.  The driver was leaning idly against the hind wheel filling a pipe.  Mr. Lavender glanced at the near horse, and seeing that he was not distressed, he thus addressed the man: 

“Do you not know, my friend, that every minute is of importance in this national crisis?  If I could get you to see the question of transport steadily, and to see it whole, I feel convinced that you would not be standing there lighting your pipe when perhaps this half-hour’s delay in the delivery of your goods may mean the death of one of your comrades at the front.”

The man, who was wizened, weathered, and old, with but few teeth, looked up at him from above the curved hands with which he was coaxing the flame of a match into the bowl of his pipe.  His brow was wrinkled, and moisture stood at the comers of his eyes.

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Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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