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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 148 pages of information about The Unbearable Bassington.
was ill, which might have meant much or little; then there had come that morning a cablegram which only meant one thing; in a few hours she would get a final message, of which this was the preparatory forerunner.  She already knew as much as that awaited message would tell her.  She knew that she would never see Comus again, and she knew now that she loved him beyond all things that the world could hold for her.  It was no sudden rush of pity or compunction that clouded her judgment or gilded her recollection of him; she saw him as he was, the beautiful, wayward, laughing boy, with his naughtiness, his exasperating selfishness, his insurmountable folly and perverseness, his cruelty that spared not even himself, and as he was, as he always had been, she knew that he was the one thing that the Fates had willed that she should love.  She did not stop to accuse or excuse herself for having sent him forth to what was to prove his death.  It was, doubtless, right and reasonable that he should have gone out there, as hundreds of other men went out, in pursuit of careers; the terrible thing was that he would never come back.  The old cruel hopelessness that had always chequered her pride and pleasure in his good looks and high spirits and fitfully charming ways had dealt her a last crushing blow; he was dying somewhere thousands of miles away without hope of recovery, without a word of love to comfort him, and without hope or shred of consolation she was waiting to hear of the end.  The end; that last dreadful piece of news which would write “nevermore” across his life and hers.

The lively bustle in the streets had been a torture that she could not bear.  It wanted but two days to Christmas and the gaiety of the season, forced or genuine, rang out everywhere.  Christmas shopping, with its anxious solicitude or self-centred absorption, overspread the West End and made the pavements scarcely passable at certain favoured points.  Proud parents, parcel-laden and surrounded by escorts of their young people, compared notes with one another on the looks and qualities of their offspring and exchanged loud hurried confidences on the difficulty or success which each had experienced in getting the right presents for one and all.  Shouted directions where to find this or that article at its best mingled with salvos of Christmas good wishes.  To Francesca, making her way frantically through the carnival of happiness with that lonely deathbed in her eyes, it had seemed a callous mockery of her pain; could not people remember that there were crucifixions as well as joyous birthdays in the world?  Every mother that she passed happy in the company of a fresh-looking clean-limbed schoolboy son sent a fresh stab at her heart, and the very shops had their bitter memories.  There was the tea-shop where he and she had often taken tea together, or, in the days of their estrangement, sat with their separate friends at separate tables.  There were other shops where extravagantly-incurred

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