Then he became Nicky's friend; the only one who took a serious interest in his inventions and supported him when he wanted to go into the Army and consoled him when he was frustrated. Then he had become the friend of the family. Now he was recognized as more particularly Dorothea's friend.
It was, above all, fitting that Nicky should devote himself to the invention and manufacture of armaments. He could not conceive anything more wantonly and scandalously wasteful than a system that could make any other use of Nicky's brains. He thanked goodness that, with a European War upon us, such a system, if it existed, would not be allowed to live a day.
She had plates of steel to polish, and pieces of wood to rub smooth with glass-paper. There were sheets of brass and copper, and bars and lumps of steel, and great poles and planks of timber reared up round the walls of the workshop. The metal filings fell from Nicky's lathe into sawdust that smelt deliciously.
He heard the sound of wheels and hoofs coming along the lane at the side of the garden wall, and the next moment saw the head of Nicky's leader, apparently protesting violently, come beyond the angle of the wall.
Her mind turned and fastened on one object the stiff, naked wooden chair standing in its place before the oak table by the window. She remembered how she had come to Michael there and found him writing at his table, and how she had talked to him as though he had been a shirker and a coward. She had borne Nicky's death. But she could not bear Michael's.
"The soul of Nicky is in that cat," Frances said. Jerry knew that he was Nicky's cat. When other people caught him he scrabbled over their shoulders with his claws and got away from them. When Nicky caught him he lay quiet and heavy in his arms, pressing down and spreading his soft body.
And no more ideas for engines were coming into Nicky's head. The Morss Company and Nicky himself were even beginning to wonder whether there ever would be any more. Then Nicky thought of Desmond. And he showed that he was thinking of her by sitting still and not talking when he was with her. She did not fill that emptiness and spaciousness of Nicky's head, but he couldn't get her out of it.
At night, beside the image of the forteresse mobile, the image of Desmond was a thin ghost that stood back, mournful and dumb, in the right-hand corner of the vision. But the image of Desmond was there. At first it stood for Nicky's predominant anxiety: "I wonder when Desmond will have finished the drawings." The model of the Moving Fortress waited upon Desmond's caprice.
Her only fear was that he'd miss it, and she hid, so close as a hare in its form, to watch how it might go. But since Nicky's eyes were on the ground and the sunset light glittered very brave upon the toy, miss it he did not.
He had done it ruthlessly, while the strawberries were still wet on Nicky's mouth. And when it was all over Michael, looking for his father, came into the school-room where these things happened. He said he was awfully sorry, but he'd taken Roger out, and Roger had gone down on his knees and cut himself.