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William John Locke
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 300 pages of information about The Red Planet.
For instance, if I began to tell you a thousandth part of the dare-devil deeds of my friend here, Captain Winslow of my regiment, he would bolt like a rabbit into the Town Hall and fall on his knees and pray for an earthquake.  And whether the earthquake came off or not, I’m sure he would never speak to me again.  And they’re all like that.  But in honouring me you are honouring him, and you’re honouring our regiment, and you’re honouring the army.  And in honouring Mrs. Boyce, you are honouring that wonderful womanhood of the Empire that is standing heroically behind their men in the hell upon God’s good earth which is known as the front.”

It was a soldierlike little speech, delivered with the man’s gallant charm.  Young Winslow gripped his arm affectionately and I heard him say—­“You are a brute, sir, dragging me into it.”  The little party descended the steps of the Town Hall.  The words of command rang out.  The Parade stood at the salute, which Boyce acknowledged, guided by Winslow and his mother he reached his car, to which he was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress.  After formal leave-taking the Boyces and Winslow drove off amid the plaudits of the crowd.  Then Sir Anthony and Lady Fenimore.  Then Betty and her aunts.  Last of all, while the troops were preparing to march away and the crowd was dispersing and all the excitement was over, Marigold picked me out of my chair and carried me down to my little grey two-seater.

CHAPTER XXI

Of course, after this (in the words of my young friends) I crocked up.  The confounded shell that had played the fool with my legs had also done something silly to my heart.  Hence these collapses after physical and emotional strain.  I had to stay in bed for some days.  Cliffe told me that as soon as I was fit to travel I must go to Bournemouth, where it would be warm.  I told Cliffe to go to a place where it would be warmer.  As neither of us would obey the other, we remained where we were.

Cliffe informed me that Lady Fenimore had called him in to see Sir Anthony, whom she described as being on the obstinate edge of a nervous breakdown.  I was sorry to hear it.

“I suppose you’ve tried to send him, too, to Bournemouth?”

“I haven’t,” Cliffe replied gravely.  “He has got something on his mind.  I’m sure of it.  So is his wife.  What’s the good of sending him away?”

“What do you think is on his mind?” I asked.

“How do I know?  His wife thinks it must be something to do with Boyce’s reception.  He went home dead-beat, is very irritable, off his food, can’t sleep, and swears cantankerously that there’s nothing the matter with him,—­the usual symptoms.  Can you throw any light on it?”

“Certainly not,” I replied rather sharply.

Cliffe said “Umph!” in his exasperating professional way and proceeded to feel my pulse.

“I don’t quite see how Friday’s mild exertion could account for your breakdown, my friend,” he remarked.

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