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in tribal business. By patiently sifting out right and

time:2023-12-07 04:29:49 source:check net author:news read:272次

"They don't think she will live very long," he said. "She is getting physically much weaker. But during this last week or two she has been less unhappy, they think. They say some new change may come any time: it may be only the great change--I mean her death; but it is possible before that that her mind will clear again. Sir James told me that occasionally happened, like--like a ray of sunlight after a stormy day. It would be good if that happened. I would give almost anything to feel that she and I were together again, as we were."

in tribal business. By patiently sifting out right and

Barbara, childless, felt something of motherhood. Michael's simplicity and his sincerity were already known to her, but she had never yet known the strength of him. You could lean on Michael. In his quiet, undemonstrative way he supported you completely, as a son should; there was no possibility of insecurity. . . .

in tribal business. By patiently sifting out right and

"God bless you, my dear," she said.

in tribal business. By patiently sifting out right and

One close thundery morning about a week later, Michael was sitting at his piano in his shirtsleeves, busy practising. He was aware that at the other end of the room the telephone was calling for him, but it seemed to be of far greater importance at the minute to finish the last page of one of the Bach fugues, than to attend to what anybody else might have to say to him. Then it suddenly flashed across him that it might be Sylvia who wanted to speak to him, or that there might be news about his mother, and his fingers leaped from the piano in the middle of a bar, and he ran and slid across the parquet floor.

But it was neither of these, and compared to them it was a case of "only" Hermann who wanted to see him. But Hermann, it appeared, wanted to see him urgently, and, if he was in (which he was) would be with him in ten minutes.

But the Bach thread was broken, and Michael, since it was not worth while trying to mend it for the sake of these few minutes, sat down by the open window, and idly took up the morning paper, which as yet he had not opened, since he had hurried over breakfast in order to get to his piano. The music announcements on the outside page first detained him, and seeing that the concert by the Falbes, which was to take place in five or six days, was advertised, he wondered vaguely whether it was about that that Hermann wanted to see him, and, if so, why he could not have said whatever he had to say on the telephone, instead of cutting things short with the curt statement that he wished to see him urgently, and would come round at once. Then remembering that Francis had been playing cricket for the Guards yesterday, he turned briskly over to the last page of sporting news, and found that his cousin had distinguished himself by making no runs at all, but by missing two expensive catches in the deep field. From there, after a slight inspection of a couple of advertisement columns, he worked back to the middle leaf, where were leaders and the news of nations and the movements of kings. All this last week he had scanned such items with a growing sense of amusement in the recollection of Hermann's disquiet over the Sarajevo murders, and Aunt Barbara's more detailed and vivid prognostications of coming danger, for nothing more had happened, and he supposed--vaguely only, since the affair had begun to fade from his mind--that Austria had made inquiries, and that since she was satisfied there was no public pronouncement to be made.

The hot breeze from the window made the paper a little unmanageable for a moment, but presently he got it satisfactorily folded, and a big black headline met his eye. A half-column below it contained the demands which Austria had made in the Note addressed to the Servian Government. A glance was sufficient to show that they were framed in the most truculent and threatening manner possible to imagine. They were not the reasonable proposals that one State had a perfect right to make of another on whose soil and with the connivance of whose subjects the murders had been committed; they were a piece of arbitrary dictation, a threat levelled against a dependent and an inferior.

Michael had read them through twice with a growing sense of uneasiness at the thought of how Lady Barbara's first anticipations had been fulfilled, when Hermann came in. He pointed to the paper Michael held.


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