His hand caught Ian’s with the grip of that brotherhood which is as old as Adam, and the hand of miner after miner did the same.
The strike was over—at a price too big for human calculation; but it might have been bigger still.
Outside the open door of the manager’s office Stafford watched and waited till he saw Rudyard, with a little laugh, get slowly to his feet and stretch his limbs heavily. Then he turned away gloomily to the darkness of the hills. In his soul there was a depression as deep as in that of the singing-woman.
“Al’mah had her debt to pay, and I shall have mine,” he said, wearily.
THE WORLD WELL LOST
People were in London in September and October who seldom arrived before November. War was coming. Hundreds of families whose men were in the army came to be within touch of the War Office and Aldershot, and the capital of the Empire was overrun by intriguers, harmless and otherwise. There were ladies who hoped to influence officers in high command in favour of their husbands, brothers, or sons; subalterns of title who wished to be upon the staff of some famous general; colonels of character and courage and scant ability, craving commands; high-placed folk connected with great industrial, shipping, or commercial firms, who were used by these firms to get “their share” of contracts and other things which might be going; and patriotic amateurs who sought to make themselves notorious through some civilian auxiliary to war organization, like a voluntary field hospital or a home of convalescence. But men, too, of the real right sort, longing for chance of work in their profession of arms; ready for anything, good for anything, brave to a miracle: and these made themselves fit by hard riding or walking or rowing, or in some school of physical culture, that they might take a war job on, if, and when, it was going.
Among all these Ian Stafford moved with an undercurrent of agitation and anxiety unseen in his face, step, motion, or gesture. For days he was never near the Foreign Office, and then for days he was there almost continuously; yet there was scarcely a day when he did not see Jasmine. Also there were few days in the week when Jasmine did not see M. Mennaval, the ambassador for Moravia—not always at her own house, but where the ambassador chanced to be of an evening, at a fashionable restaurant, or at some notable function. This situation had not been difficult to establish; and, once established, meetings between the lady and monsieur were arranged with that skill which belongs to woman and to diplomacy.
Once or twice at the beginning Jasmine’s chance question concerning the ambassador’s engagements made M. Mennaval keen to give information as to his goings and comings. Thus if they met naturally, it was also so constantly that people gossiped; but at first, certainly, not to Jasmine’s grave disadvantage, for M. Mennaval was thought to be less dangerous than impressionable.