And continuing our parable – the hazards are made plain here – actually were made clear in the last post of the series. Here we have the account of what actually happened, the provocation, the justification and consequent reactions. (Actually the last mentioned happens first, but never mind…).
And don’t be too concerned, there is a
tw…well, dont be worried, is what I want to say….
“Killed him, eh?”
It was a solution that had not occurred to me, but now that it was presented for my inspection I could see its merits. In these days of national effort, when we are all working together to try to make our beloved land fit for heroes to live in, it was astonishing that nobody before had thought of a simple, obvious thing like killing George Mackintosh. George Mackintosh was undoubtedly better dead, but it had taken a woman’s intuition to see it.
“I killed him with my niblick,” said Celia.
I nodded. If the thing was to be done at all, it was unquestionably a niblick shot.
“I had just made my eleventh attempt to get out of that ravine,” the girl went on, “with George talking all the time about the recent excavations in Egypt, when suddenly—you know what it is when something seems to snap——”
“I had the experience with my shoe-lace only this morning.”
“Yes, it was like that. Sharp—sudden—happening all in a moment. I suppose I must have said something, for George stopped talking about Egypt and said that he was reminded by a remark of the last speaker’s of a certain Irishman——-“
I pressed her hand.
“Don’t go on if it hurts you,” I said, gently.
“Well, there is very little more to tell. He bent his head to light his pipe, and well—the temptation was too much for me. That’s all.”
“You were quite right.”
“You really think so?”
“I certainly do. A rather similar action, under far less provocation, once made Jael the wife of Heber the most popular woman in Israel.”
“I wish I could think so too,” she murmured. “At the moment, you know, I was conscious of nothing but an awful elation. But—but—oh, he was such a darling before he got this dreadful affliction. I can’t help thinking of G-George as he used to be.”
She burst into a torrent of sobs.
“Would you care for me to view the remains?” I said.
“Perhaps it would be as well.”
She led me silently into the ravine. George Mackintosh was lying on his back where he had fallen.
“There!” said Celia.
And, as she spoke, George Mackintosh gave a kind of snorting groan and sat up. Celia uttered a sharp shriek and sank on her knees before him. George blinked once or twice and looked about him dazedly.
“Save the women and children!” he cried. “I can swim.”
“Oh, George!” said Celia.
“Feeling a little better?” I asked.
“A little. How many people were hurt?”
“When the express ran into us.” He cast another glance around him.
“Why, how did I get here?”
“You were here all the time,” I said.
“Do you mean after the roof fell in or before?”
Celia was crying quietly down the back of his neck.
“Oh, George!” she said, again.
He groped out feebly for her hand and patted it.
“Brave little woman!” he said. “Brave little woman! She stuck by me all through. Tell me—I am strong enough to bear it—what caused the explosion?”
It seemed to me a case where much unpleasant explanation might be avoided by the exercise of a little tact….
To be continued….