The Unbearable Bassington eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 181 pages of information about The Unbearable Bassington.
degree of enthusiasm as was displayed by his mother and uncle, who, after all, were not making the experiment.  Even the necessity for an entirely new outfit did not appeal to his imagination with the force that might have been expected.  But, however lukewarm his adhesion to the project might be, Francesca and her brother were clearly determined that no lack of deft persistence on their part should endanger its success.  It was for the purpose of reminding Sir Julian of his promise to meet Comus at lunch on the following day, and definitely settle the matter of the secretaryship that Francesca was now enduring the ordeal of a long harangue on the value of the West Indian group as an Imperial asset.  Other listeners dexterously detached themselves one by one, but Francesca’s patience outlasted even Sir Julian’s flow of commonplaces, and her devotion was duly rewarded by a renewed acknowledgment of the lunch engagement and its purpose.  She pushed her way back through the throng of starling-voiced chatterers fortified by a sense of well-earned victory.  Dear Serena’s absurd salons served some good purpose after all.

Francesca was not an early riser and her breakfast was only just beginning to mobilise on the breakfast-table next morning when a copy of The Times, sent by special messenger from her brother’s house, was brought up to her room.  A heavy margin of blue pencilling drew her attention to a prominently-printed letter which bore the ironical heading:  “Julian Jull, Proconsul.”  The matter of the letter was a cruel dis-interment of some fatuous and forgotten speeches made by Sir Julian to his constituents not many years ago, in which the value of some of our Colonial possessions, particularly certain West Indian islands, was decried in a medley of pomposity, ignorance and amazingly cheap humour.  The extracts given sounded weak and foolish enough, taken by themselves, but the writer of the letter had interlarded them with comments of his own, which sparkled with an ironical brilliance that was Cervantes-like in its polished cruelty.  Remembering her ordeal of the previous evening Francesca permitted herself a certain feeling of amusement as she read the merciless stabs inflicted on the newly-appointed Governor; then she came to the signature at the foot of the letter, and the laughter died out of her eyes.  “Comus Bassington” stared at her from above a thick layer of blue pencil lines marked by Henry Greech’s shaking hand.

Comus could no more have devised such a letter than he could have written an Episcopal charge to the clergy of any given diocese.  It was obviously the work of Courtenay Youghal, and Comus, for a palpable purpose of his own, had wheedled him into foregoing for once the pride of authorship in a clever piece of political raillery, and letting his young friend stand sponsor instead.  It was a daring stroke, and there could be no question as to its success; the secretaryship and the distant shark-girt island faded away into the horizon of impossible things.  Francesca, forgetting the golden rule of strategy which enjoins a careful choosing of ground and opportunity before entering on hostilities, made straight for the bathroom door, behind which a lively din of splashing betokened that Comus had at least begun his toilet.

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The Unbearable Bassington from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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