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Details were happily discussed, many messages entrusted ;
one that was never put into words.

" Tell him, tell him — he is to come back quickly."
That was all Eunice's special instructions, given with glow-
ing eyes and flushing cheeks.

" I understand," Michael answered in a low voice, adding,
" He shall understand."

He covered up his own hurt. It was true, as Lady Grin-
delay had said to his father, they had a genius for friendship.
What more can a man ask than to bring happiness to the girl
he loves, be able to help her? Since it was Desmond she
needed for her happiness, he would bring Desmond to her,
tell him of his freedom, make the way easy for him.



CHAPTER XX

Desmond was not amongst the first batch, of prisoners whom
Lord Egberts, marching into Pretoria with colours flying
after all those desperate daj^s of disaster and death, had found
and released. Neither was he with those who, indifferently
well cared for, lay under the shadow of the church where
Kruger had officiated week by week, preaching his distorted
patriotism and the gospel of peace that had bespattered two
continents with blood. It was at Waterval young Lord Grin-
delay was discovered. The Boers, retreating in disorder be-
fore our advancing army, had these last prisoners with them,
prisoners held, perhaps, for ransom or reprisal, many of
them dead or dying of fever or gangrened wounds, faint with
famine or parched with thirst. They had sad stories to tell of
outrage and insult, neglect or ill-treatment.

But Desmond had no story to tell ; he was long past talk,
unrecognisable for many da5'S, until, in the quickly impro-
vised field hospital, one of his own men saw him, called others
to confirm, and finally spread the incredible news. He came
very slowly to the knowledge of his rescue. One arm had been
shattered by rifle shot; he had more wounds than, according
to the doctors, could be shown by any other living tribute to
the accuracy of Boer marksmanship. He had lain for many
days in the bosom of King Death, looking into his cold eyes,
feeling his hypnotic breath, without the strength to struggle,
or perhaps the desire. He was so weak he wished that Death
would clasp him closer. But the doctors wrested him away
against his will. Out of reach of that hypnotic breath he
became only conscious of pain, physical and mental pain, of
hopelessness. His fever had been haunted by the swaying of
boughs, visions of moss-clad roots of trees in the cool woods
of Marley, by mirage of the gleaming river in green leafy
distances. When his intervals of consciousness came now,
there were no green woods, but canvas walls, the dry dust of
the sun-baked veldt blowing through the flapping door, and

215



216 FULL SWING

near him, so uear that he could have touched her, Gabrielle —
Gabrielle Eadlett ! — she who stood for ever between him and
the woods. It seemed impossible that she should be here,
incredible.

It was not delirium, not another fevered dream, and pres-
ently he understood she was speaking to him.

" You did not expect to see me here, did you ? Can't you
make an effort — pull yourself together ? "

" You have come out to nurse me ? " he said faintly.

She laughed ; he hated that light laugh, and shut his eyes.

" Don't you flatter yourself it was only for you I came.
You were supposed to be dead, you know."

"I don't understand," he said feebly. He wished she
would go away.

" There's nothing to understand. I'm not here as Lady
Grindelay; I am here as Nurse Eadlett. You mustn't give
me away."

" Give you away ? "

She would not explain, nor let him talk just then; she
was quite a good nurse, and recognised he was not yet in a
condition even for listening. She was hot in pursuit of a
quarry even more promising than he had been, when, hearing
of his resurrection, she had hurried to his side. She wanted
secrecy from him, and was annoyed to find him in no condition
for argument or compromise. She reckoned on his not having
yet heard from England; on his being in ignorance of that
which by now she knew the McKays had discovered. She had
no time to waste. The new quarry lay in Cape Town at the
mercy of her ministrations. But she had many rivals, ladies
fair and ladies frail, and she wanted to get back to her post.

"I wish now I had thought of some other name," she
said reflectively, as she lifted Desmond's head and put the cup
to his lips.

She meant that in such case she need not have come to
Waterval; Lord Grindelay would not have known she was in
South Africa, could not have interfered with her. With the
strange inconsistency of her kind, she had no mind even now
to tell him that he had no right of interference.



FULL SWING 217

" You lie still and get well, that's what you've got to do,"
was her answer to the inquiry in his fever-dulled eyes.

" Do they know ? " he asked.

She lied convincingly.

" Nobody knows, nobody has got to know — mind that."

It seemed to satisfy him, and afterwards he rested fitfully.

Freedom had come to her since she had been out here.
Convict No. 3734 was dead. But young Lord Grindelay had
not known of his existence. She had to make her plans before
he was better informed. She had to vamp up for him some
tale of irregularity in the ceremony they had gone through.
There would be no difficulty in making him repeat it. She
knew the nature of his chivalry, and how to play on it. The
child was a great asset. But she had much bigger game on
hand, ever so much bigger. She was clever and daring; the
Earl of Montressor weak, dull witted and amenable. Without
the chain of convict No. 3734 dragging beliind her there was
nothing of which she did not feel capable. But she would
k,eep this other string to her bow as long as possible. She had
got that five thousand pounds so easily that it seemed to her
there must be much more behind where it came from. There
was money to be made, too, from the earl, even if he broke
away. She wanted all she could get. She was typical of the
class of women, not voluptuaries, but mere traders, who grow
greedier as they grow older.

" I've got to get back in a few days," she told Desmond.
** You and me have got to have some talk. But not yet, not
until you are better, buck along up, now."

There was something about which he wanted to ask her,
but he had forgotten what it was. In semi-delirium it came
back to him, and that night he caught at her skirt to detain
her, only to find it was another skirt he held; then again he
relapsed into unconsciousness. Doctors and nurses came and
went in that hasty but admirably organised field hospital,
Nurse Eadlett evadingly among them.

Letters from home were on the way, delayed here and
there by the exigencies of the war. The first thing that came
was Michael McKay's cable.



218 FULL SWIN(^

Michael was coming out to him. He wondered why, not
wanting Michael, nor anybody, only to be allowed to be still,
to drift out through the swaying door. His wife was here
somewhere. He should be grateful, but he shrank from her
weakly, flesh and spirit shrank. He had a dim, sick man's
insight sometimes into Gabrielle's mind; she said strange
things — strange, impatient things. The intermittent fever
came and went. In delirium Eunice would float in some-
times, put a cool hand on his forehead, say " Yes " or " No "
soothingly in response to his gabble, to the disjointed words
he poured out, in which he tried to tell her how it all came
about, how little it meant, that he had never cared about any-
body but her. He called out her name, then woke, sweating
and afraid lest Gabrielle should have heard.

Gabrielle was tired of it, bored with the field hospital,
with Desmond. She wanted to go back to the variety and
colour of Cape Town, to the languishing earl. But after
Michael's cable came she dared not stir. She had three
weeks before her, three weeks in which to make her choice.
She was distracted with it, like the dog with the big piece of
meat in its mouth and the reflection in the water. She could
make Desmond marry her again, she had no doubt about that,
if she could concoct a story for him before Michael got in with
his. But Desmond was surrounded by his friends and com-
rades, too ill to assert himself; he was under their protection.
And she had just such another young fool in tow. She was
undecided, fearing to miss the substance for the shadow,
delaying Desmond's recovery by the turmoil in which she kept
his mind. For in his weakness it but reflected her own. And
he did not know what she wanted of him ; only that she stood
between him and Marley. He improved very slowly, almost
imperceptibly ; he seemed to make no effort.

" There must be something on his mind," said one doctor
to another.

" We must get him away as soon as possible."

They tried the experiment of telling him that he was
going to be sent home, and were astounded when he answered
agitatedly in that weak voice of his that he could not go, that



FULL SWING 219

he wished to stay "where he was. His fever flamed higher after
that ; he responded less well to their drugs or their efforts. In
the end the offices of the army chaplain were invoked. And
the army chaplain wasted few words. It did not seem to him
to be the time for them, nor for texts, other than one he did
not preach, but proved.

" You've something on your mind, Grindelay ; you are not
making the progress they expect of you. Is there anything I
can do for you — that you'd like to tell me ? We're proud of
you, but you're disappointing us."

"I don't see there is anything to be proud of," Desmond
answered wearily. " I made a mess of an expedition, led my
men into a trap, cost a lot of good fellows their lives."

" Is that what's troubling you ? "

He' was without fever at the moment, but also without
interest or energy. This was when he wrote that letter to his
mother. His v^dfe had not been near him for days now; he
did not know what had become of her. But he knew all
about what he had done. Married a woman he could never
take home, forfeited home, Eunice, all for nothing, for a
woman who mocked him and would not answer a question.
Michael was coming out to him, perhaps to tell him that his
place was filled. Young Lord Grindelay turned his face to
the wall ; he did not wish to get better or well.

" Is it the loss of your men that is troubling you ? "

" No."

"What is it, then?" the parson repeated gently. "If
you cared to tell me I might be able to help."

"No one can help me," Desmond said weakly, with his
face to the wall,

"Home troubles?"

" Nothing I've not brought upon myself." He moved rest-
lessly in the bed. " Don't bother about me."

" You are disappointing the doctors, who have taken end-
less trouble over you," the parson persisted.

" I wish they hadn't ! I wish they'd let me die ! "

"It has been almost a miracle that your arm is saved.
You are not grateful for that ? "



220 FULL SWING

" No ! " shortly.

" Well, you ought to be, that's all I can say."

The parson was rebuffed, a little offended, perhaps, getting
up as if to go away, then changing his mind and coming back
to the side of the bed. "You've been kept secluded, with
this screen round you. They are taking it away presently.
Look round you then, thinJc. You have some trouble, some
private trouble. I see that, and I wish I could have been of
use to you, but you won't let me try. I'm going to say one
thing more to you " — Desmond's face was still averted —
" whether you wish to hear it or not. There is only one way
to lighten a heavy heart ; take another's burden on it. Blend
the two with sympathy; you'll find the sympathy acts like
yeast. Well, good-bye. I see you don't want to talk to me.
When you do, you will find friends around you. They will
preach to you better than I can."

He spoke to dull ears. Desmond could think of nothing
but his wife. For days now she had not been near him. But
she had impressed secrecy upon him, spoken of an irregu-
larity in their marriage, hinted at things to be set right. He
was so much less a man than he had been, by reason of his
pain and wounds and recurrent fever, that he could not face
his future with her at all. Michael was coming, and he would
have to speak of her to Michael, hear what happy news he
brought. Never in the worst agony of pain and fever had he
longed for water as he longed now for Marley or for Eunice,
even sometimes for his mother. He had thrown everything
away.

Yet something of the Rev. Alan Hodder's words must
have penetrated. For the day after his visit, the screen re-
moved and all the tented bareness of the room revealed,
Desmond found himself no longer with his face to the wall,
but lying on his back, seeing many pallet beds and strange,
unshaven faces. Before he had time for recognition one
from the bed beside his own called out :

" Hullo ! "

This was not a man, but a boy, quite a young boy he
seemed, and one strangely familiar.



FULL SWING 221

" Hullo ! " Desmond answered vaguely.

" Getting better ? "

The question brought no ready answer. Desmond stared
at "his interlocutor, and his interlocutor gazed back at him.
Neither of them moved; one of them because he could not,
the other because he had not the energy or the desire.

" I don't believe you know who I am."

" I am not sure ; we're all ghosts, I suppose. Did I know
you when we were alive ? '*

" I'm Thwaites."

"Thwaites?"

" Jimmy Thwaites ! "

« Jimmy Thwaites ? "

" Eton. You can't have forgotten. I say, you must have
been thundering bad. This is the first time anyone has seen
you since you were brought here. There was a screen round
your bed. But you are better, and that's good news. Isn't
it rum that there are three of us here. Three O.E.'s ! "

" You're Bunny ! " Desmond exclaimed.

" Bunny I am, what's left of him ! "

It was the same old Bunny, his little pal from Eton,
whimsical, with his gutta-percha face and wide smile.

" You've come to it now. And ' Paddy from Cork ' you
were. But now you're * No Surrender Grindelay ! ' and
there'll be medals for your breast, my bhoy ! "

He imitated the brogue as he had oft«n done before, and
some of his boyhood, of which this young Bunny had been a
part, came dully back to Desmond.

" You haven't lost your impudence," he answered.

He had said they were all ghosts, and it was but the
ghost of a smile he had for the imitation. But even that
cleared his mind and his sight a little.

" Same old Bunny ! Wlio are the others, who else is
here ? " he asked.

" We're the others. Elphinstone is here."

" Elphinstone ! "

The conversation ended then. An orderly came round.
Desmond had to be fed, his restored arm was still useless.



222 FULL SWING-

When he wanted to talk again, but that was not until a few
hours later. Bunny was asleep. He himself slept better that
night, better than he had done since they brought him here.
And in the morning he seemed to have a new interest in life.

" Bunny — it is you, isn't it, I didn't dream it ? "

" The top of the morning to you. I've been wondering how
much longer you were going to lie there like a log. I'd have
thrown a wet sponge at you, but there isn't- one handy. I
haven't been called Bunny since I left Eton. They called me
' The Kid ' at Sandhurst."

" You bounded, I suppose." The old jokes came back to
him, the old slang.

" Wrong again, it was because I was so expert at a bottle.
I say, hasn't this been a rag? We've busted their old com-
mandoes sky high. I wouldn't have missed it for anything.
I only wish I wasn't going home. There's lots of fun to
come."

" Why should we go home ? We can get leave to rejoin, I
suppose ? "

" You can, lucky beast." But it was quite a cheerful
grumble.

"Well, why can't you?"

Bunny Thwaites looked healthy, although smaller- than
ever, shrunken a little. But what they had all gone through
at the hands of the Boers would account for that. His blue
eyes were still alight with fun, and his boyish spirit shone in
them.

" Why can't I ? Well, for one thing, because they've shot
off both my legs, bad cess to them ! "

Desmond went quite white, Jimmy's sharp eyes saw it.
There was no one near either of them.

"You're not going to faint away like a bally girl, are
you ? " he asked anxiously. " I shouldn't do that if I were
you. It's the fortune of war."

Desmond could not answer. Bunny, little Bunny
Thwaites, the readiest and most alert of fags, and such a fives
player !



FULL SWING 223

" I'll be about on my stumps before you know where you
are. What's a leg or two ? "

He was brave — too brave. When he saw tears rolling down
Desmond's cheeks, and that he was trying to wipe them away
or hide them with his red flannel sleeve, his own voice faltered.
But he went on after a minute.

"What's a leg or two, Paddy? Don't take on. I'll get
about with cork ones, get a bigger pair than I ever had of my
own, and look quite a fine fellow. Don't howl, Paddy."

" I'm not howling."

" I'm only half as badly off as Elphinstone."

"Who is talking about me?" came a cheery voice from
the other comer of the ward, two beds away from them.

Jimmy answered ; Desmond could not command his voice.

" Paddy from Cork ; he's come to life again."

" What? ' Ko Surrender Grindelay ? ' That's good news.

" ' Surrender be damned ! ' was what he said. You remem-
ber what a foul-mouthed brute he always was."

" Glad you've come round, Grindelay. You've been pretty
bad, haven't you? We've all been anxious about you."

" It's awfully good of you."

Elphinstone had been a very big pot at Eton; captain of
the Top, captain of the boats; in the Sixth. Desmond turned
his head away from poor Jimmy and toward Elphinstone as
he spoke. He had hardly recovered from the shock of hearing
about Jimmy's legs ; he could not bear to look at the bed.

There was little to be seen of Elphinstone but bandages.

" You've been knocked about, too ? " he said.

" Shut up ! " broke in Bunny shortly, quickly, under his
breath.

" Why should he shut up ? I wish all you fellows wouldn't
think I'm sensitive." The clear voice cut across to where they
lay through the odour of iodoform and disinfectants. " I'm
blind, Grindelay ! I can hear you talk, but I can't see you."

" Oh, my God ! Not blind — not for always, Elphie? "

" Dear old boy ! Don't be too sorry for me. There's lots
worse off than I am. You'd be surprised how keenly I hear,
better every day. I shall be able to row, you know, and lots of



224 FULL SWING

other things. There is nothing to prevent my riding. Poor
old Bunny, now — the poor Kid ! "

Desmond, all his limbs intact, even if for the moment
his right arm was stiff and useless, heard later on that Elphin-
stone had had the top of his head blown off by a shell, and
both his eyes with it. Elphinstone ! They had walked down
the High together, arm in arm, iu their silk hats and exclu-
sive waistcoats. They had cheered their House at football
matches. It was Elphinstone who had got him into the boat.

Before Elphinstone and Jimmy and their courage, the lost
woods of Marley grew faint and blurred, and Desmond be-
came ashamed of his self-absorption. There came an esprit
de corps into that canvas tent, with its row of pallet beds —
something of the old school spirit, when they knew better
than to cry out when they were hurt. There were other men
there, eleven altogether; some from other big schools, one or
two from the colonies. Jimmy said they ought to get up a
cricket match, and suggested himself as "stumper."

But Elphinstone was the life and soul of the ward. He
chaffed the nurses ajid even flirted with them. Notwithstand-
ing that he must always wear a bandage because of his dis-
figurement, and that so little time ago he was the handsomest
of lads, he talked as if little was altered. It was pitiful, but
it was fine. He was for ever testing his increasing sharpness
of hearing, " swaggering it," Bunny said. Bunny and all of
them were benefited by Elphinstone's fine courage and the
way he bore his trouble. It was as if he was still the head
of his House, his influence telling. He was grateful for the
gift of life that Desmond had been for abandoning. But,
then, he came of a family of Christians, and had the light that
helped his blindness. Desmond's troubles began to look small
even to himself. The parson's text was working.

It was wonderful, although it was so pitiful, to see the
cheerfulness of that hospital ward as the days went on. Stories
were told and songs were sung. Cruelly marred and blasted,
mere remnants of men, they jested about their misfortunes,
gloried in their comrades' successes, extolled Eoberts or com-
miserated Gatacre, were grateful for the comforts that came



FULL SWING 235

to them, looked forward to going home, but envied those who
could remain here, their spirit whole in their marred bodies,
oflScers and gentlemen in their red jackets and unshaven faces.

By the time Michael McKay got to Pretoria Desmond was
nearly well. He had heard no more of Gabrielle. Hurriedly
as she came, so hurriedly had she gone. Sometimes now it
seemed as if it had really been a dream, or a nightmare;
that she had been here, urging him to silence, threatening
he knew not what. . He knew he must seek her out before he
went home, settle things up with her, and ask her that ques-
tion which now seemed part of his delirium. He would accept
all Ms obligations. But for the moment the greatest of them
was to take his share in keeping up the spirit of the ward —
" keeping up the tone of the house," as Jimmy called it.

When Michael came, term was nearly over; they were
breaking up. Some were to be drafted to Pretoria, to find the
superior accommodation and treatment the Pretoria hospital
afforded; others were to go to Cape Town and thence home.

Desmond, his arm still in a sling, his blue eyes sunken in
his thin brown face, met Michael outside the hospital tent.
Michael, incongruous among the tethered horses on the
pawed ground, the baggage waggons and men in shirt sleeves,
was inquiring his way. All v,^as cheerful haste, for they were
to be up and moving before dawn.

" The field hospital ? Just in front of your nose."

" Lord Grindelay ? Oh, yes, he's there right enough, unless
he's walking about somewhere."

" I saw him ten minutes ago, over there with tlie horses."

Michael did not recognise Desmond when he did see him
— not for the moment. More than his expression had altered.
There was little of the boy left in him, for all he was still
so young. He had seen sights that had put chasms between
himself and boyhood.

" Who was inquiring for me ? Why, it's Michael McKay ! "
he exclaimed, flushing, holding out his hand.

" Desmond ! It is Desmond, isn't it ? "

Michael exclaimed, and then explained, all in the tradi-
tional Michael manner.
15



226 FITLL SWING

" A year is a long time. You've been away the best part
of a year. And then, of course, you must have been exceed-

ingly ill."

" You need not apologise for not knowing me," answered
Desmond with a laugh. " I hardly know myself."

But after that, and Michael's protestations that it was
only in the first moment of coming upon him unexpectedly
that he had failed to recognise him, there was not quick or
complete ease between them.

Desmond showed Michael the camp, made him free of its
hospitality, thanked him for coming up. But when, later on,
they spoke of Marley and those who had sent him, they spoke
with constraint.

They were at Cape Town waiting for the steamer before
the constraint loosened. The steamers were all over-crowded
and the hotels full to their utmost capacity. All had been
bustle and confusion on the way down from Pretoria, and
there had been little opportunity for private conversation.
Michael had taken an intelligent interest in all he saw,
although his intelligence was often clouded by his pity, when
he became silent and tried to hide it. Wounded men and
officers were still pouring into Cape Town — the wastage of
the army. And there were mothers and sisters, sweethearts
and wives waiting, some of them in hastily-donned black,
Elphinstone's mother was amongst them. Michael saw her
meeting with her son, and other cruel meetings

He saw harpies also. Women in smart clothes, here on
the pretence of helping, or being near their husbands, but
swooping for pleasure amid the carnage — vultures to their
filthy feast. And Gabrielle Eadlett was amongst them.
Gabrielle's name was the first to break the constraint between
the young men.

Desmond was not yet aware that his mother knew of his
marriage. He would not go home without her knowing it,


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