At a dinner party in a hill station, Captain Gadsby, recently engaged to be married to young Minnie Threegan, finds himself sitting next to Mrs Herriott, an older woman, and his previous love. She does not know of the engagement, and reproaches him for avoiding her. At first he is evasive, but then decides to confront her with the truth, that their relationship is over. He does so rather bluntly, and – within the painful constraints of a public dinner party – she replies that she despises him, but refuses to give him up…
A critical comment
Norman Page (page 122) comments that:
The disturbing power of this story (The Fortnightly Review’s praise of it as ‘drawing-room comedy of a high order’ seems very far from hitting the nail on the head) resides in the dramatic situation; the formal and public context precludes either of the participants from giving open expression to their feelings. yet we have a sense of the woman’s rage and despair even as she helps heself to asparagus and arranges her gloves and fan.
[J H McG]
©John McGivering 2005 All rights reserved