The Unbearable Bassington eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 148 pages of information about The Unbearable Bassington.
and with a certain semblance of special knowledge.  Politics he avoided; the ground was too well known, and there was a definite no to every definite yes that could be put forward.  Moreover, argument was not congenial to his disposition, which preferred an unchallenged flow of dissertation modified by occasional helpful questions which formed the starting point for new offshoots of word-spinning.  The promotion of cottage industries, the prevention of juvenile street trading, the extension of the Borstal prison system, the furtherance of vague talkative religious movements the fostering of inter-racial ententes, all found in him a tireless exponent, a fluent and entertaining, though perhaps not very convincing, advocate.  With the real motive power behind these various causes he was not very closely identified; to the spade-workers who carried on the actual labours of each particular movement he bore the relation of a trowel-worker, delving superficially at the surface, but able to devote a proportionately far greater amount of time to the advertisement of his progress and achievements.  Such was Stephen Thorle, a governess in the nursery of Chelsea-bred religions, a skilled window-dresser in the emporium of his own personality, and needless to say, evanescently popular amid a wide but shifting circle of acquaintances.  He improved on the record of a socially much-travelled individual whose experience has become classical, and went to most of the best houses—­twice.

His inclusion as a guest at this particular dinner-party was not a very happy inspiration.  He was inclined to patronise Comus, as well as the African continent, and on even slighter acquaintance.  With the exception of Henry Greech, whose feelings towards his nephew had been soured by many years of overt antagonism, there was an uncomfortable feeling among those present that the topic of the black-sheep export trade, as Comus would have himself expressed it, was being given undue prominence in what should have been a festive farewell banquet.  And Comus, in whose honour the feast was given, did not contribute much towards its success; though his spirits seemed strung up to a high pitch his merriment was more the merriment of a cynical and amused onlooker than of one who responds to the gaiety of his companions.  Sometimes he laughed quietly to himself at some chance remark of a scarcely mirth-provoking nature, and Lady Veula, watching him narrowly, came to the conclusion that an element of fear was blended with his seemingly buoyant spirits.  Once or twice he caught her eye across the table, and a certain sympathy seemed to grow up between them, as though they were both consciously watching some lugubrious comedy that was being played out before them.

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The Unbearable Bassington from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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